It maybe a little too early to give away the best film of the year award to Shor In The City with eight months to go, but it will take one hell of a film to beat this.
From the moment the opening credits roll to Sachin-Jigar's catchy ‘Karma is a bitch' and Tushar Kanti Ray's zippy camera takes you on the wrong side of a one-way street, directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK are in complete control of the chaos they want to unleash. Shor In The City is a tribute to the deafening din and the disruptive disorder that defines India.
It's Bollywood's upbeat answer to Babel with its theme of interconnectedness, karma, gun-culture, redemption, chaos and the overbearing force of the universe that overrides every decision we make.
The film starts with the text: “The city is just an excuse for you to be good or bad. Mostly bad.” And we see the bad emerge right away in three parallel narratives — petty crooks kidnap an author to boost their book piracy business, a non-resident Indian with a dark past has to deal with a fresh set of troubles on homecoming and a young cricketer considers bribing his way into the U-22 team.
This is where we are introduced to the protagonist or antagonist, depending on whose perspective you view it from: a bag of explosives that will rock their world.
Like the Morocco segment of the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu film, this is the story of man as a child discovering what guns/arms do. If Babel derived its unifying theme from the religious subtext of its title that binds humanity, Shor borrows from the social significance of the most celebrated festival that unites us. People from different backgrounds and races, irrespective of their differences, get together to celebrate Ganesha's birthday and send him off in style with the rains cleansing the city and the noise drowning it.
Shor In The City is about fresh starts. It's as much about the noise as it is about the lull. The moments of calm and quiet are nicely tossed in after every round of deafening action. There's a lovely track involving the slow, budding romance between Tilak (Tusshar) and his newly-wed wife (Radhika Apte), a woman he barely knows. Tusshar, in his best role till date, is absolutely endearing as the book pirate trying to read “The Alchemist”.
The laughs come in regularly thanks to the antics of Tilak's buddies — Manduk (an incredibly funny Mitobash) and Ramesh (Nikhil Dwivedi) — and their adventures in trying to blast the bomb. What's commendable is the flair with which the directors shift mood from the light to the dark, without ever compromising on the emotional core.
The ensemble does a fantastic job. Be it Sendhil Ramamurthy who plays the fish-out-of-water NRI Abhay, or Sundeep Kishan who plays the cricketer-looking-for-a-shortcut Sawan, the characters give us enough depth to care about them. So what if you don't know too much about their back stories beyond a scar or a newspaper clipping. We get just enough insight on a need-to-know basis.
The masterstroke is that the film does not stop to make moral judgments despite its exploration of morality. No moral instructions. Or answers. Just a gripping climax to bring an end to a riveting cinematic experience.
As derived or inspired it may be from Inarritu's school of filmmaking, Shor In The City is as desi as it gets because it's so full of hope and smiles, no matter what they have been through. It happens only in India. It's a country you know and love, despite the chaos. Which is why you leave the hall with a satisfied smile on your face. And you realise why you love the noise.
Shor In The City
Director: Krishna DK-Raj Nidimoru
Cast: Sendhil Ramamurthy, Tusshar, Sundeep Kishan, Nikhil Dwivedi, Mitobash, Radhika Apte, Preeti Desai
Storyline: Three petty crooks find explosives, an NRI gets a threat from the local mafia and an upcoming cricketer needs money to get into the U-22 team and need to do what's right as the Shor in the city makes the choices simpler for them
Bottomline: A complete, satisfying, explosive cinematic experience about karma and chaos.