We all know that Shilpa Shetty has become a household name in the U.K, and expectations double up when her film is about to be premiered here. From her reality on Big Brother, Shetty now returns to what she does best - acting on the Big Screen. IndiaFM's London correspondent Devansh Patel was invited for a special screening of the film in London and what follows is his first hand take on the movie.
If someone tries to base his picture of today's world on average Bollywood films, he would come to the conclusion that there isn't any world outside Mumbai. This could be explained with sharp ethnic, social, economic and cultural divisions that exist within something that people like to refer as a “city” or a “Metro”. For many of its citizens, life has become so hectic that they now need to find another suitable partner to entertain themselves, and while some need to find the perfect match in the imperfect world, others are desperate to make their marriage work. One of the many films to address this issue is Life in a Metro, directed by Anurag Basu.
The narrative is anything but linear, taking as it does a contrasting assortment of characters from all walks of life and all ethnic groups, and tracing how their lives collide, changing each and every one of them forever. In her first film since making a worldwide impact as the winner of Celebrity Big Brother, Shilpa Shetty stars as Shikha, a bored housewife who embarks on an illicit friendship with Akash (Shiny Ahuja). Irrfan Khan is a 30 year old virgin who tries to find love through dating websites. A young man Rahul (Sharman Joshi) desperately tries to make his way in the business world. Ranjeet (Kay Kay Menon) cheats on his wife Shikha… Their everyday lives are thrown into turmoil in their pursuit of love and happiness. Not to forget the oldies, Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali who've just realised that they love each other truly after 40 years of living separately from each other. Is that true love?
Anyway, here's how the story goes. Rahul is one young man with dreams. He is working as a call centre executive in Mumbai. He silently loves his boss, Neha portrayed by Kangana Ranaut, a smart young woman who has made it up the ranks in a very short time by sleeping with her boss, Kay Kay Menon. In his 30s, Ranjeet is married to Shikha with a kid. Shikha is very well educated than Ranjeet and claim to earn more money than her husband. But they decided that she should stay back at home and take care of the house and the kid. So Ranjeet ventured out on his quest for money, success and sex… and forgot his family somewhere on the way. Sourness and dullness crept into their relationship giving Ranjeet a silly reason to find a fresh lease of life in Neha. What was wrong with Shikha? She looks ten times hotter than Neha. Dejected and neglected, Shikha gets attracted to Akash when they both meet at the bus-stop. Love blossoms and she almost crosses her limits that she has so passionately guarded all these years. Next up is Shikha's sister and Neha's room-mate, Konkana Sen Sharma as Shruti who works in Radio Mirchi. She is a virgin, anxious to get married to the guy who presents a talk-show on the radio played by Gautam Kapoor as Wishy K. Her boss hooks her up with Wishy only to find out one day that he is a gay. Mr Anurag Basu, didn't you think twice before giving poor Konkana the same scene she performed in Page 3? Moving on swiftly, she then meets Debu aka Irrfan through Shaadi.com, a matrimonial site. Debu too a virgin finds Shruti attractive but she thinks the opposite. Last but not the least, Rahul wants to run in his life to grab success because life for him isn't a morning walk. His key to success and promotion is his house keys as his junior boss, senior boss and his big boss look for a perfect place to get intimate with their mistresses who work in the same office pretending to be call centre girls rather than call girls. And amidst all this confusion we have old man Dharmendra as Amol who comes back from the US to meet Shikha's aunt and to spend the last few months of his life with her first love. So if Richard Gere can kiss Shilpa, our Bollywood balwaan can go one step further by smooching Nafisa Ali.
The astonishing thing about this film is that it presents us with a group of people each of whom, with one notable exception, does something utterly unforgivable during the course of the day. Each awful act, if taken alone, would be enough to condemn each character as the villain of the piece, and yet so well drawn, so fully realised and completely credible are these characters' lives and dilemmas, that we end up understanding and sympathising with them as they have their momentary breakdowns and one by one cross the line.
The dialogues also leave much to be desired - characters are often burdened with long expository dialogues that don't sound particularly realistic. For example the argument between Shilpa and Kay Kay Menon.
Life in a…Metro is fuelled with maddening realism. Don't be fooled by the film's Mumbai backdrop - these are issues that go on every day - everywhere. Music director Pritam and his band appear on-screen in every song which is shot in a situational manner. 'In Dino' is the best of the lot and deserves a standing ovation. It seems churlish to pick out any one performance for special praise as everybody is just alright. Kay Kay gives his natural performance yet again. Shilpa continues what she did on Big Brother, letting her sentiments pour down her eyes and showing her fans that she still is the hottest body in the business. Not many actresses can carry off a saree like she does. Performance wise, she was spot on. But it was Konkana and Irrfan's pair which put the smile back on our cheeks. They were the best of the lot; especially in a scene where Irrfan follows Konkana on a horse to the railway station. Sharman Joshi plays his part well as a used colleague by his bosses; Kangana is the same in every film, lost in love and Shiny Ahuja is a complete waste. Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali's story should've been replaced by giving other characters more meaty appearances.
But this is Anurag's film; his characters, his city, his vision. It's deeply human and empathetic, observational without being judgemental, compassionate without being soft, shocking without being gratuitous, clever and contrived but sometimes predictable.