Tag Archives: Hansal Mehta

TV Review: Modern Love Mumbai (2022)

Modern Love Mumbai is the Indian version of the Amazon Original anthology series, ‘Modern Love‘. MLM follows the same aesthetics as the original work. Set in Mumbai, each of the six episodes present different love stories expressing freedom and questioning the boundary to reach the human desire.

Modern Love was set in New York and all the stories were based on the essays published in The New York Times under the same title. So I am not sure if MLM also followed this route. But each of the stories has its significance and has the essence of the plot’s simplicity to sensualize. These stories are very close to life and most of the audience can relate.

Three of the six stories are about married women thoroughly divided in ages. One is as young as their twenties, the second is in her forties, and the third is in her late fifties or mid-sixties. One is about homosexuals, and another is about a young woman searching for the ideal man through a dating app. And there is one particular for the Northeast Indian mother-son story who is in the conflict of getting or not getting mixed in multiculturalism. So this indicates that MLM was written and developed with care.

I liked the panel of directors who worked on their part of the stories. Shonali Bose returned to the director’s seat for Raat Rani years after ‘The Sky Is Pink‘. Raat Rani is about A girl from Dal Lake, Lali, who marries a Mumbaikar, a security guard Lutfi and arrives in Mumbai but her life is dull until Lutfi is transferred to the other station leaving his bicycle behind for her.

Hansal Mehta directed a controversial episode ‘Baai‘ about homosexuality. Hansal previously directed ‘Aligarh‘ with the same subject. This is about Manzar Ali who belongs to a conservative Muslim household but is interested in men but is not able to tell his ailing grandmother Baai.

Another veteran director Vishal Bhardwaj did the Northeastern family drama ‘Mumbai Dragon‘ where the mother faces difficulty in accepting her son with his girlfriend who doesn’t belong to her ethnicity.

Alankrita Srivastava did ‘My Beautiful Wrinkles‘ about an old widow Dilbar who takes interest in a young athlete Kunal, a plot that is similar to one of the four stories in her ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha‘. Alankritas direction is like a wave for the liberalism of womanhood where she develops bold intentions in the plot and addresses them in a peculiar way. Alankrita shows the loneliness of Dilbar that absorbs and the passion and hunger in women in general for more adequate lust melts young men to daydream and draw their nudity in their honest illustration. Sticking with the old memories may lessen your optimism. Confessing private intentions is courageous but healthy for releasing the negative energy she had in life.

Super excited to see Little Things-famed Dhruv Sehgal who directed one of the episodes ‘I Love Thane‘ about Saiba who is seeking her ideal through a dating app but gives a shot at Parth to whom she finds out through work this time.

Nupur Asthana did the last episode ‘Cutting Chai‘ about a married woman Latika in her forties thinking about her life decisions, about becoming a wife, and a mother but not a novelist, something that was her ambition.

It is the beauty of small portions in the screenplay that gives you the feel about how these things matter in life, the human connection is strong in the drama. Like in Cutting Chai, Latika begins to regret her life decisions and imagine people around her agreeing and disagreeing with her. That is indicating how careful a young man or woman was when he/she was young and had to listen to society about what he/she should have decided and what not. In Raat Rani, Lali is about to throw her husband’s old bicycle from the flyover until she thinks about utilizing it by learning to ride it and earn bread through it.

Modern Love Mumbai is the positive energy that addresses optimism and encourages us to move on or give it a chance. Although, any tv or film product can have similar elements, but the beauty of MLM stories is that the plot inclines towards a push that is needed to make the audience think. The continuity of each episode never looks pressing too hard at all.

I enjoyed when Dilbar gives a try to fantasize about young athlete Kunal in the fourth story or Manzar meets Rajveer after his fondness for the previous boy matters into heartbreak in the second episode. Same case with Saiba who gives a shot at Parth by breaking her norm to find men from the dating app. That explained a lot. Therefore, the audience gets to learn or realize a few things in life if not all by watching Modern Love Mumbai.

I don’t remember if I ever happened to see Naseeruddin Shah playing a Sikh character, that is another accomplishment in his celebrated career I reckon. Good to see Sarika after a long time, she deserves to get more recognition. Pratik Gandhi is quite an actor who has the ability to play different roles. From a rich Gujarati stockbroker to a Muslim homosexual from a conservative household, Pratik really has made a distinction in his choices. For me, from all the stories, the one actor amongst all who is the winner is Fatima Sana Shaikh in the first episode. The accent, the body language, the emotional breakdown, everything was there. She nailed her character. It was a delight to see such a quality performance.

MLM has impressive writing and direction as well as quality performances due to good choices about casting in the stories. Ram Sampath‘s music score is very touching and full of life. Modern Love’s creator John Carney was involved in financing MLM so that is also why the tone was maintained and none of the makers Bollyfied with curry aesthetics.

There is every capacity to go for more than one season. Because MLM is all about some quality essays to write about and stories to speak about. Stories will never die, and love won’t compromise. There is much human connection still to work on through different mediums. So MLM must go on.

My Bollywood’s Best of 2014

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Since I became a blogger writing sporadic pieces, I have given my opinion for most of the movies I have watched. There was a time when I used to watch Hindi movies with utter passion but now I hang my glasses. With the calendar year passing by, my rate of watching Hindi-language movies have fallen drastically low now. Reasons are many but majorly what is lacking in nowadays Hindi-movies is a material which make you invest your time quality.

Bollywood still in its second decade of the century majorly lacks stories on which a perfect screenplay can be implemented and put to work. Quality of acting is not sublime and no matter how good the music sounds, the worse are the lyrics. Every beginning of the year, Bollywood and its pundits, moviegoers and viewers are focused on the most prestigious movies award, FILMFARE. Unfortunately, Filmfare also do not justify most of the awards and have richly fallen under the good-pockets and well-known showbiz families.

In the last five years, I have noticed a slight change in movie production companies introducing new faces or encouraging some deserving talents and publicizing their image and promoting their movies on a high scale. In 2014, contrary to my expectations, I have watched some good movies. I chose almost 25 movies from the list of Hindi-language movies of last year from Wikipedia, which helped me increase my options of deciding to pick a promising movie. Some were disappointing but some were exciting.

Today in this blog, I present to you my Bollywood’s best of 2014 from most of the categories I have scrutinized. This is the first time I am blogging for Bollywood and will also publish for Hollywood in near future. I will discuss most of the categories if not all and mention some noteworthy names related to that category. The categories are under three different sections.  So here I go;

MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

A.R.RAHMAN (HIGHWAY)

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Other Notable Works: Vishal Bharadwaj (Dedh Ishqiya), Amit Trivedi (Queen) & Mathias Duplessy (Finding Fanny)

 

BEST PLAYBACK SINGERS

MIR MUKHTIYAR ALI (FANNY RE – FINDING FANNY)

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REKHA BHARDWAJ (JAGAAVE SAARI RAINA – DEDH ISHQIYA)

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BEST SONG & LYRICS

PATAKHA GUDDI (NOORAN SISTERS/IRSHAD KAMIL/A.R.RAHMAN – HIGHWAY)

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Other Notable Works: Bismil (Sukhwinder Singh/Gulzar/Vishal Bhardwaj – Haider)

 

BEST MUSIC

MATHIAS DUPLESSY (FINDING FANNY)

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Other Notable Works: Amit Trivedi (Queen) & Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (2 States)


 

TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

SUDESH ADANA (BISMIL – HAIDER)

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

PAYAL SALUJA (DEDH ISHQIYA)

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There are two prominent features in Dedh Ishqiya which give you detailed texture – dialogues and costumes. Most of the shooting was done in Mahmudabad Palace near Barabanki. As per the script, the ancient Urdu era was revitalized with royalty. So this adds major concern with the two aforementioned features. Payal Saluja (Raanjhanaa, Ishqiya, Maqbool) has done fantastic work with costume designing and her first marks will raise your eyebrows when the attendees will gather at the royal party in Begum Para’s Haveli. Excellent dress-work on Naseeruddin Shah and Huma Qureshi and most impressively on Madhuri Dixit.

Other Notable Works: Dolly Ahluwalia (Haider) & Tabasheer Zutshi (Miss Lovely)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

TABASHEER ZUTSHI (MISS LOVELY)

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Ashim Ahluwalia offers a close look at the C-grade pulp Hindi cinema of the eighties which used to make cheap horror-porn movies. It is a bold movie with an independent theme where the director exposes backstage dealings behind the curtains and problems in shooting such movies in the past. With such a script on the floor, all that matters to make the movie so special is costume and production design. If this movie proved its worth on global cinematic village, then full marks to aforementioned designing work, both projected by Tabasheer Zutshi.

Other Notable Works: Subrata/Amit (Haider & Dedh Ishqiya)

BEST SOUND DESIGN

RESUL POOKUTTY (HIGHWAY)

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One of few impressive factors from Imtiaz Ali‘s road movie is Alia Bhatt, ARR’s background score, attractive locations, and sound design. The Rahman-Resul musical duo has proved the winner most of the time and also has an unforgettable achievement of bagging Academy Awards for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Although A.R.Rahman was off-color with average tracks but the sound designer was in full form.

Other Notable Works: Sanjay/Allwin (Queen) & Anilkumar/Prabal (Mardaani)

BEST SCENE

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BEST EDITING

AARTI BAJAJ (UGLY)

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Aarti Bajaj was the first spouse of Anurag Kashyap and is a regular movie editor for Anurag Kashyap and Imtiaz Ali movies. She is very responsible for their successful movies. The beauty of moviemaking lies in editing and my pick is Ugly. Ugly has a lot of turns, the script will fold you and different characters will puzzle you. Body smashing in a traffic accident in the same frame was pretty unnatural but the next scene of interrogation in the police station is very realistic. For me that was one of the best scenes of 2014, the reason is it was almost a 7-minute interrogation scene. Normally such scenes bore you but the editing is so marvelous that the scene grows and boils in your nerves. The way the Indian police take the case so light is fantastically shot and well-acted. Besides, scenes of driving, phone calls, searching and beatings, and many more brings a true color of translating fiction into reality. Wonderful editing!

Other Notable Works: Aarti Bajaj (Highway) & Sanjib Datta (Mardaani)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

PANKAJ KUMAR (HAIDER)

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Photography! Brilliant work by Pankaj on Haider. I cannot go with details about this but among many movies, I found the cinematography of Haider the best one.

Other Notable Works: Anil Mehta (Finding Fanny & Highway)

BEST ACTION

SHAM KAUSHAL (UGLY)

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Sorry if anyone feels this pick is offensive. I don’t have that level of enthusiasm for supernatural, unrealistic, and larger-than-life action movies of the Indian movie industry.  A lot of rage and fury, tortures and scorcher, gunshots and beatings. Ugly gives you a powerful display of action.

Other Notable Works: Manohar Verma (Mardaani)

BEST SCREENPLAY

RAJKUMAR HIRANI & ABHIJAT JOSHI (PK)

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It was tough for me to pick the movie with the most outstanding screenplay. Yes PK deserves this credit. This pair Hirani/Joshi is enjoying the booming period of scripting one of the best movies viewers have witnessed since the last decade. Under Vinod Chopra Films, they have scripted the Munnabhai series, then 3 Idiots, and now PK. Every aforementioned movie has a message, a rising voice towards the system transforming to roar over changing the system. Being comical in nature, their scripts marvelously have touched almost every viewer’s heart to fully accept the nature of the movie. Every time their movies successfully inspire us with their trend-setting catchy dialogues. PK is no less than a revolution.

Both writers introduce an alien in the country of religions, hundreds of languages, and cultures. He misses a gadget and in quest loses his edge and adapts to the local language. Meanwhile, he suffers a colossal hindrance towards different religious ways of breathing life. With the flow of the script pulling the strings, the screenplay brilliantly develops characters to assist the alien to meet an end. Just another golden egg in their basket! Take a bow, guys!

Other Notable Works: Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi) & Homi/Kersi (Finding Fanny)

BEST DIALOGUES

ANURAG KASHYAP (UGLY)

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Natural!!!! very very lively and natural. No matter if that is a sick Shalini, tortured Chaitanya, opportunist Siddhant, or furious Shoumik; dialogues are not on paper but well expressed on lips. The viewer/listener will never feel an inch of unoriginality of conversation. As more there is intense, the more the dialogues burn you. The best examples are the 7-minute interrogation scene as mentioned before and where Shoumik sends Rahul to the prison where Chaitaniya is imprisoned and eating food. Wonderful job Keshyup sir!

Other Notable Works: Vishal Bharadwaj (Dedh Ishqiya) & Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi)

 

BEST STORY

JANAKI VISHWANATHAN (YEH HAI BAKRAPUR)

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Ok, the readers perhaps or surely will raise their eyebrows over this selection hehe but I am free to pick what I find more deserving. Many of you haven’t seen this movie and I promise you that the movie itself is below-average. But what attracts me the most is its story which is quite thought-provoking

Yeh Hai Bakrapur is a low-budget social satire based on the rural parts of India who blindly follow their faith. One small kid loves his goat and he doesn’t want it to get sold but his poor family has no solution to repay the debt. One young man who loves the kid’s sister comes with a brilliant plan with the goat by painting the name ‘Allah’ on the goat’s skin which makes the entire gaoonwalay fell in ultimate impression and belief that the goat is an angel and will be a sin to sell or sacrifice it. This rural blind faith following sketch is the bitter truth and a daring dilemma that speaks a lot of depth about the deception and extreme trust over something. Unfortunately, the direction was painful which bombed a very scintillating subject.

 Other Notable Works: Amole Gupte (Hawaa Hawaai) & Hirani/Joshi (PK)


MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

DIMPLE KAPADIA (FINDING FANNY)

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She is my automatic pick. One of the finest actresses in Hindi cinema always adapts the skin of the character. She has played many different roles and in Finding Fanny, she maintains her rhythm. Dimple is Mrs. Rosalina “Rosie” Eucharistica, the self-appointed ‘Lady’ of Pocolim and mother-in-law of Deepika’s character Angie. She is over-proud for nothing and her nose touches the clouds. Some terrific screenplays ease acting gurus to add another highlight in their CV. A brilliant display of acting.

Other Notable Works: Amrita Singh (2 States) & Lillete Dubey (One by Two)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

VIJAY RAAZ (DEDH ISHQIYA)

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Tough one but this one is the best. It is not surprising for me that this man is one of the most underrated actors in Hindi cinema. His quality is that he makes the viewers observe him. He made his name from Rajat Kapoor’s Raghu Romeo. If small B’s not well-known movie ‘Run’ was a 50-50, then this ‘Kawwa Biryani’ actor was highly praised for his comedy. Amir Khan’s Delhi Belly was centered on three partners in crime but Vijay was again a specific name in talks. Now in Dedh Ishqiya, he plays another villainous role of Jaan Mohammad who is MLA-gangster of Mahmudabad. He doubles his poetry skills word-to-word copying from another poet to win Begum Paara’s heart, marry her and become the Nawab of Mahmudabad. The fury is hidden in his role as the greediness of the character gashes with the wait for approval from Begum Para. This Vijay Raaz deserves one prestigious award in his lifetime before the lifetime achievement award.

Other Notable Works: Tahir Raj Bhasin (Mardaani), Manav Kaul (Citylights), Pankaj Kapur (Finding Fanny), Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi) & Vineet Kumar Singh (Ugly)

 

BEST ACTRESS

KANGANA RANAUT (QUEEN)

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Although there have been many ladies in 2014 with majestic performances but none reach the clouds where Kangana was heavily raining. Kangana’s role of Rani Mehra in Queen is unanimous. She plays the role of a middle-class girl who wishes to spend her honeymoon with her soon-to-be husband in Paris. At the last moment, the man unties the knot and with all soreness of life knocking at the wrong time with tickets in hand, she decides to visit Paris by herself and breathe the life. There begins east-meet-west and sweet simple Delhi girl experience an unforgettable journey and befriends with people from different nationalities.

The flow of the story looks unnatural most of the time but let’s focus on Kangana. Since her debut, she looked promising, and finally, a feast is served as she displays her best performance ever. Her facial expressions are soooo natural and her normal behavior towards the unexpected Parisian lifestyle is fantastic. She will make you feel when her fiancé will inform her breakup in the beginning. She will make you stare when she will struggle to dance in the bar. You can’t ask for more than that. Queen is very Kangana-show.

Other Notable Works: Monali Thakur (Lakshmi), Seema Pahwa (Ankhon Dekhi), Alia Bhatt (Highway) & Tabu (Haider)

 

BEST ACTOR

SANJAY MISHRA (ANKHON DEKHI)

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Yeah, it was a healthy competition between the three. Two were the most popular and the one was ignored at many functions (most probably because he doesn’t carry the personality which may give him stardom). I pick the latter because I believe Sanjay Mishra ran the character in fact the whole script on his strings with a perfect note.  As compared to the competitors, the movie wasn’t popular to the house of commons like PK and Haider but he was solely responsible to bring the movie to fame.

Sanjay plays Bauji from Dilli’s gharib-khana who has compromised with his ego to accept only those things as reality in life which he has witnessed by himself. Impact? He loses his job, his brother & family separate from home, his philosophical thoughts bring many close neighbors to his devotees. It is not only about the definition of his character but the aura he brought into it. Sanjay is a thespian and Bauji is melodramatic.

The character of Bauji will make you realize how comfortable how meaningful and how relief is the life you choose in the loud noisy world in your surrounding. People will laugh at you, make fun of you, of your wit and philosophy but you will remain calm. As the movie grows on you, you begin to judge him more, you begin to find him realistic more, you see yourself in him. As a father and a brother, you see the same Bauji in two different dimensions. He is an ass, a clown without makeup, and a simple man who has everything to lose. Story of a terrible man with irreparable fate. Truly the best performance of the year!!

Other Notable Works: Shahid Kapoor (Haider) & Aamir Khan (PK)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

HOMI ADAJANIA (FINDING FANNY)

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Is Finding Fanny an Indian movie? I doubt, I really doubt. It will take the whole duration of the movie to find out that it is an Indian movie because of its extremely rich portrayal of realistic sketching of realism and the technicality of movie-making. When you watch this, you will feel like watching a Western European movie. Homi Adajania directed Being Cyrus and Cocktail before this.

From comedy to suspense, it is an absolute entertainer. The characters are defined in the beginning, the story is developed and sprinted without any nonsense. Screenplay and editing of the movie have also played a major part to praise the director’s efforts to make such an incredible movie.

Why direction is so effective? Why this movie looks different from the others? Because of Pocolim? To some degree, I agree but Homi’s homework paid off. To make the movie look creative, natural, and very realistic, Homi spent a month in village Salvador do Mundo of Goa and researched/learned its culture and local Goan Catholics. Superb direction!!

Other Notable Works: Hansal Mehta (CityLights), Anurag Kashyap (Ugly) & Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi)

 

BEST MOVIE

ANKHON DEKHI

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The last and most important category of my picking. Mithiya Talkies produced thought-provoking Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor. Some movies are clobber dimensional and some are socially inspirational. Ankhon Dekhi is Rajat Kapoor’s miss call to those who have lost the battle of survival in life, who have gone hopeless to see the change, and who have borrowed some time to ease and overcome their agony.

In old Dilli gharana lives the patriarch, Bauji. He lives in a small house with his family combined with his brother’s family. Has a job on which he just survives. Has a daughter who has an affair with a vagabond. Has a wife who is no less than a heater. After a lot of problems circulating in his head, he decides to accept only those things as a reality that he has witnessed himself. This philosophy gives Bauji some disciples, but in off state, he loses his job applying this philosophy, his brother shifts to a new home with his family sick of him. Bauji has everything to lose.

Ankhon Dekhi has everything to impress you. The impressive story, brilliant screenplay, social satire, natural dialogues, simple costumes, one of the best performances by an ensemble cast of 2014. It had tough competition in this category but I found Ankhon Dekhi reclusive. A wonderful movie!!

Other Notable Works: Ugly, Kya Dilli Kya Lahore, Citylights, PK & Finding Fanny

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Movie Review: CityLights (2014)

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What happens when a poor man from a village looks for a job in a city? What happens when he takes his family and settles down in metro-crowded-noisy city? One can never expect that anything will go absolutely right under his way. There goes a tremendous change in momentum of life and your initial steps are temporary hiccups to accept the changing circumstances over noisy and mad city. Making a movie on it may appeal some positive responses as the viewer takes the movie as something-about-to-happen experience. The movie-makers often make a comedy movie over rural-turn-urban life experience. But some become a socioeconomic subject for critical awareness to make you think how some of us taste such tragic encounters of life-changing gears. Migrated people always have that luck! 

That’s what happened couple of years ago when Sean Ellis made a British movie about a Filipino couples who had a land-migrating life-changing tragic experience from one part of Philippines to the other. The movie was ‘Metro Manila‘ that was Britain’s official entry for Best Foreign-Language Film at 86th Academy Awards last year. 

Metro Manila was an inspiration movie which reached to the doors of Indian movie industry. Citylights is produced under the banners of Vishesh Films and is official Indian remake of Metro Manila. Hansal Mehta was picked for the direction and the production of movie cost only 7 crore. Cast includes Rajkummar Rao (Love Sex aur Dhokha, Kai Po Che, Shahid), Manav Kaul and Rajkummar’s real-life girlfriend Patralekha. Set up is a poor young family of Rajasthan who migrates to Mumbai for money, better job and better future. Traveling all over from Rajasthan relying on one of close friend who never shows his face are all alone, homeless and self-dependent struggling to settle in crazy-life of Mumbai.

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Hansal-Rajkummar collaborates as director-actor for the second time after critical acclaimed movie Shahid. Director put all faith in viewers to promise yet another splendid movie with powerful performances by Rajkummar and Manav Kaul.  

Rajkummar Rao is one amazing Haryana-born acting talent who always mesmerizes you with any role he plays. His characters are challenging. Since 2013, he is in magnificent form and picking very selective movies to bring a lot of critical attention among the movie pundits, journalists and sensible moviegoers. Citylights is his 3rd critical acclaimed performance after Kai Po Che and Shahid. As compared to KPC and Shahid, this role is more tougher. This character is more broken and shattered, and his migration with young wife and little daughter becomes a curse. Lost in the citylights, he is compromised with the naked truth that poverty is a disease and and every honest man is to be stripped. There are many high points in the movie and truly the most powerful scene is when he is drunk and return to his wife.

Citylights is an absolute portray of betrayal and gear-shift morale-collapsing tragic life-story. It is an emotional roller-coaster and depiction of fake-expectation of something called ‘Ray of Hope’ where survival is not in your fate. You are supposed to fell down from your own roof. One of best movies of 2014. Thumbs up for Hansal-Rajkummar partnership!

RATING: 8.8/10