Life in a Metro – quite enjoyable despite the plagiarized bits!

I saw two Anurag Basu movies almost back to back – Gangster and LIA Metro. I wish there was some way to put the best of these films together and make an awesome film. Gangster had a taut script and did not have as much disconnect as Metro, but Metro had some fine performances and great music.

Metro is centered around an apartment that belongs to Rahul (Sharman Joshi) and he is happy to loan the keys to all and sundry for an edge up the career ladder. Sound familiar? Of course it should, there was a great film called The Apartment with exactly this theme where Jack Lemmon played the beleaguered employee who had to spend cold nights outside while his bosses “used” the apartment. And Rahul loves Neha (Kangana Ranaut) from afar only to find that she is one of the girls the boss Ranjeet (Kay Kay Menon) takes to the apartment. In the original this role of a vulnerable career girl was played by the incomparable Shirley McLaine and Kangana tries to channel her for all she is worth. Now to make his story original Mr. Basu flails about and adds on many other stories – Ranjeet has an ignored wife Shikha (Shilpa Shetty) who meets a man Akash (Shiny Ahuja) on a train/bus and starts to fall for him. Shikha’s sister Shruti (Konkona Sen Sharma) shares an apartment with Neha and is pining for love to happen to her. After some Page 3 type mis-steps (date is gay) she falls for Monty (Irrfan Khan). Confused? Wait there is more – Shikha and Shruti’s mom Shivani (Nafeesa Ali) meets up with her old flame Amol (Dharmendra) and he busts her out of some place she is not allowed to leave.

So these pieces ebb and flow in the ocean that is Mumbai and we see a slice of working class life in the metro. Whenever there is a poignant moment there is a beautiful song that no main character sings. Instead we have a flea bitten trio of singers who do the honors. This is right out of Something about Mary – worked there, but here it is hokey to the extreme and the dudes are very annoying. They totally ruin the fine music in the film.

Direction is okay I guess – there are some blood red moments when Shilpa is about to do the deed (will she?) – I felt like I was back in Black Friday. The film is very dark and moody and the cinematography is quite excellent.

Now for the best part of Metro – the acting. In order of my preference – Kay Kay plays the cad husband and heartless boss very well. But why does he breakdown when he comes back home? Neha leaving him makes that profound a difference? That is just not believable, but his caddish behavior after Shikha confesses is spot on! Irrfan is awesome as the socially inept male who cannot keep his eyes on the right spot. His horse-ride is filmy but hilarious. Next up is Shaman Joshi – he has the best role and does an excellent job as the career guy who suffers the consequences of his own thoughtless actions. Konkona is competent – she does this job well but this is really not a meaty enough role for her. Same goes for Shiny – not much of a role, but well done. Shilpa is okay – I found her trying hard to express sorrow and remorse and happiness but not being very natural in her attempts. In that sense I felt that though Kangana played the same role yet again she was good in her role. However – she needs to improve her diction. And last but not least we have Nafeesa Ali and Dharmendra – I wish Anurag had chopped off a few of the inane bits and given us more of this duo – they tugged at your heart strings and were simply beautiful. Inexplicable why she dies and why she could not leave her “home” etc. but I did not care.

So all in all I think Gangster (in spite of Emraan Hashmi) was a better flick – more focused and touching. But Metro is a decent watch for the ensemble cast that all perform well.

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