Life in a Metro is the latest in the string of multi story dished out for an urbane audience that flocks to multiplex for feel good cinema. The movie explores the underbelly of a city caught in a 9 to 9 existence, lure of retail economy and its implications on human equations.
Well, for one the subject definitely has potential. But what goes terribly wrong with this movie is its lack of ambition. Anurag Basu is content with his final product: clichéd cinema with loads of oomph value.
So Metro becomes a tell tale of “who does who” in a Corporate environment with characters who out do each other in the bedroom. The stories are etched weakly and so are the characters. Of the jamboree, the only story that strike a chord is Shruti’s.
Shruti is the quintessential girl caught in the whirlpool of job, career and making her life in the city which leaves little time for play. Her loneliness takes her to matrimonial sites and wrong choices. Half an affair with a gay and some meetings, Shruti finds togetherness with the awkward, “off the train” Debu. With shades of Sex and the City, the bond Debu and Shruti form is endearing. However, Anurag explores only one facet of the single life in Metro. Most singles do bother about where the next hug would come from but there are other overriding factors to a single life. Like career, ambition self expression, savings, taxes, laundry etc. Rahul (Sharman Joshi) works in a call centre and pawns his apartment for the good things in life without an emotion. Rahul finds himself at the crossroads when Neha, who he loves, attempts suicide in his apartment. He questions his premises and chooses to stop. The story of Kay Kay Menon and Shilpa Shetty, a couple whose marriage is on the verge of breakdown, is by far the most clichéd. It goes on to strengthen the small town perception of a metro where married men are jumping from bed to bed while their waiting wives heave and sigh with a sacrificial lamb like attitude. Basu boy should know better. Marriages caught in expectation warp, lack of compatibility, vortex of EMIs, and struggle for identity in a social institution with multiple pressures demand a more sensitive portrayal than a philandering husband and a waiting wife. Kangana Renaut’s as the unbalanced woman seeking meaning through a relationship is copied from earlier movies like Arth but lacks depth. Incoherent dialogues like”Mein apne us baap ko dhoond rahee hoon jo mujhe bachpan mein chod kar chala gaya tha” makes you groan. The story of Dharmedra- Nafisa Ali laced with sexual innuendos are passé.
The performances lack punch. The extremely talented Shiney Ahuja is wasted as the wannabe actor who starts caring for the neglected wife. Sharman Joshi, and Kangana Renuat are just about average. Kay Kay Menon delivers the goods but becomes a victim of weak characterization. Anurag, eschews from exploring the urban male psyche through Ranjeet’s character. The doe eyed Shilpa Shetty of the big brother fame needs to act now. She comes across as both vacuous and pretentious as the suffering wife. The movie belongs to the on screen chemistry of Irfaan Khan & Konkana Sen who act unpretentiously.
And finally, one word about the music. Pritam’s band sung some songs well but their leaping onto the screen in weird hairdos and black garb was distracting. Amitabh’s lyrics could have been better.
Anurag Basu is capable of much more, Metro can be at best described as a creative hiatus of the guy who gave us the very luscious Murder and the very black Gangster.
I stirred the thin paste of mustard & tomatoes in the frying pan. She stood in front of me. part of a world lost.
I had walked away from it. Built my life. Changed. She had walked away too. Built her own life. She hadn’t changed..
She still tied her hair neatly in a small ponytail. With one stroke of brush. still wore her specs. she still wore loose khadi kurta with white churidars. still didn’t wear any makeup. She still talked a lot. And had a studied arrogance towards life.
"I downloaded your father's picture"...she gushed,” can never forget him...neeeever.. the uncreased kurta...the loose pyajams.... his languid walk...he seemed from another world".
And I could hear the unsaid...forms and images were so important to her...it must have been important for her to download the fading image of the man who was my father.
The simmering mustard stuck to the ends of the pan. I stirred it scraping the crispy brown layers from the edge. Just like old times, that stick to the edges, brown and crisp.
“Do you still cook as well?” She asked. “ You were such a spectacular cook….” she said excitedly.
“It still tastes the same”…I replied. We laughed.It didn’t take her more than a second to react.
And then we laughed at everything in turn. The bunked classes, the bad movies churned out in sweaty cinema halls, the hunk of an English Professor, the crammed togetherness in small rikshaws, the dosa afternoons and stolen cups of coffees at Shubraj, pride of Ashok Rajpath.
We laughed at complex things as well, things that were neither black nor white, but a shade somewhere in between, things that were core to our existence then.
Her paintings. My poetry. Her research. My job. Our single status. And our collective disdain towards it.
Neetu still paints beautifully. As though all the intensity within pours on the canvas. Her paintings haunt.
I insisted she send some paintings to put on my blog. She conceded with some hesitation.
I don’t claim to understand art, but I am aesthetically inclined. And I think Neetu, it’s a loss that you don’t take your gift a little more seriously.
I think about the shredder of the white sheafs of paper That goes in and the thin stripes of pulp perfection that comes out hiding within all the stories that were never told
Its tough being born with a perfect body and to be filled with salt and gel and freshness and then to be squeezed around every morning to nothingness I only feel better when I see the toothbrush haggard to death like that