Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Patralekha; Director: Hansal Mehta; Rating: ***1/2
'Mumbai'- a city of dreams that never sleeps. But its often
said that you should not dream with open eyes. But can someone afford to sleep
peacefully without a roof over his head. Hansal Mehta's Citylights is one such
heart touching story of a person's desperation to meet his basic needs. The
agony, the pain and the sheer helplessness can either make or break a person completely.
Citylights is a story of a debt-ridden young man, Deepak
along with his small family leaves the quiet of his rural existence seeking a
better future through the city of dreams, Mumbai. The dream of an improved life
and aspirations for an income that will alter the quality of his life soon come
crashing down as he finds city of lights casting a dark shadow on his survival.
His wife Rakhee is the first to find a job that is a severe blow to her dignity
but is ultimately the only means of earning their meager daily bread. Driven by
desperation and ultimately determination to overcome the odds Deepak is able to
find a job with perils that are far beyond the obvious. His immediate employer,
Vishnu is a man who has been hardened by his experiences and who unknown to
Deepak has a devious plan for a better tomorrow - a plan that could include
Deepak and endanger him. At heart Citylights is a love story, a story about
familial bonding, a thriller that explores the depths of human nature and a
drama about sacrifice in the city of dreams. Citylights is about our world, our
times and the ultimate emotion that drives every relationship - love.
Rajkummar Rao, who plays a debt ridden person, Deepak, is an
impeccable actor. He completely justifies the National Award that he received recently.
His performance is very engaging and overwhelming for the audiences, so much so
that it gives you goose bumps. His portrayal of a simple village guy, whose
life revolves around his wife and child, is done in a manner that one feels the
emotional turmoil that he is going through. Patralekha who plays Deepak's wife,
Rakhee in the film, has also done a fantastic job for a debut. To get a film
like Citylights as her debut surely has given her career a great start up. She
too has portrayed her role very well and seems to be in the skin of the character
completely. Taking up a job that is socially and morally unacceptable, but
taking it up as it's the only source of bread for her family, is presented flawlessly
by her. She doesn't lack screen presence in spite of her sharing screen space
with the immensely talented Rajkummar Rao.
The music of Citylights by Jeet Ganguly is very
intriguing and it takes you into a world of itself and is very engaging.
Musskurane sung by Arijit Singh, is a beautiful song and sung brilliantly well.
Darbadar sung by Neeti Mohan is another amazing track. Background score is very
gripping. The only flaw the movie has is that it is stretched out in the second
half, as opposed to the brilliant first half. The editing could have been crisper.
The climax of the film is predictable and hence can be a little disappointing.
Though the film is a remake of BAFTA nominated British film, Metro Manila, it
doesn't seem half baked and is a great story and a piece of ace film making. Hansal
Mehta's Citylights may not be a mass entertainer, but is a very thought proving
tale, and definitely a must watch.