Films representing urban lifestyles are the flavour of the season and ‘Life in a Metro’ is the new arrival. Sangeetha Devi. K
The Swiss Alps, mushy NRI romances and stylish biker sagas are still sweeping the box office. The other end of the spectrum, interestingly, presents stories culled out from the neighbourhood. The big, bad metros with their fast-paced lifestyle and relationships seem to be intriguing many film-makers.
“The happenings in a metro city are eventful. The city presents interesting case studies of people, relationships, work and power games, fashion and much more. Trends begin from these epicentres and percolate to smaller towns,” explains film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar. Reflecting on his films, he says, “My films have captured different strata of people in Mumbai. If Chandni Bar showed the city’s under belly - the plight of bar dancers; Page 3 mirrored the social circuit; Corporate showed boardroom politics; Traffic Signal showed life at the busy junctions and my next film, Fashion, is about the fashion circuit in Mumbai and Delhi.” Mumbai, the city of dreams, has played a pivotal part of Indian cinema down the decades. Recently, Munna Bhai and Circuit gave a new impetus to Mumbaiyya Hindi; a spate of films from Ram Gopal Varma - Satya, Company, Sarkar – cashed in on the underworld and the underbelly of a metropolis, and Anurag Basu’s Life in a Metro, which releases today, is about the young and restless chasing professional dreams at the cost of their relationships.
On a tangent, there have been films like Mumbai Matinee and Taxi no 9211 as well. “The story pitches two opposite characters that represent the varied layers of the Mumbai society. We wanted to mirror the city of contrasts and shot the entire film on Mumbai streets,” Rohan Sippy recollects about Taxi no. 9211.
Sanjay Gupta’s Shootout at Lokhandwala, is another addition to real-life inspired stories set in Mumbai. The film recreates the encounter in which Dawood’s aide Maya Dolas was killed in 1992.
Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti did not scream Delhi in its title but had it all. The locales apart, there was Aamir Khan as DJ and Kirron Kher as his mother sufficiently speaking Hindi Punjabi/Dilli style.
Anand Kumar who made Delhii Heights recently, defends his choice that stemmed from a soft corner to the city. “I was born here. Many Hindi films have used Delhi for locations but never really captured the essence of the city. I chose Jimmy Shergill, Neha Dhupia and Simone Singh who are all in some way connected to Delhi. The story and characters are universal; it’s the Delhi lingo that made the difference,” he says. The only drawback of setting his film in the capital, he says, “It’s tough to shoot an entire film here compared to Mumbai.”
Distributing films that represent lifestyles in the metros on a nation-wide basis is not a problem, film-makers claim. “The multiplexes are a boon. Single screen theatres in smaller towns are also being converted to multiplexes. People identify with the story since every small town now has malls, upscale restaurants and amusement parks. Page 3 was a hit even in Patna,” says Bhandarkar. Anand affirms, “Selling Delhii Heights to distributors across India wasn’t an issue. People were curious about the title and the concept and it worked.” Nagesh Kukunoor was the pioneer among the present generation of directors to bring back the spot light on our nawabi city. The successful Hyderabad Blues and the not-so-successful Hyderabad Blues II saw him take nuggets from the lives of true-blue Hyderabadis. And in Teen Deewarein, he played the Hyderabadi convict effortlessly speaking Dakkhani Hindi.
More recently, city-based production The Angrez sparked off a laugh riot. The success story led to more films of the same kind - Hyderabad Nawabs and Kal Ka Nawaab.