By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
The trend of narrating multiple stories in Hindi films continues. SALAAM-E-ISHQ, HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD., JUST MARRIED: MARRIAGE WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING and LIFE MEIN KABHIE KABHIEE, all 2007 films, tackled multiple stories in those 2.30/3.30 hours.
METRO charters a new path because the multiple stories run concurrently. Also, the characters are, in some way, linked with each other.
With METRO, director Anurag Basu proves for the third time [after MURDER and GANGSTER] that he's an incredible storyteller. The complexities in relationships, the shortcuts one adopts in life to attain the goals and the corrosion of ethics and values have been depicted most convincingly.
Yet, METRO is no landmark film. It doesn't sweep you off your feet…
If Anurag Basu, the director, deserves brownie points as a storyteller, Anurag Basu, the writer, is just not in terrific form this time around. Reason: The culmination of a few stories, besides the unique concept of using the 'Metro Band' in every song, prevent the film from reaching dizzy heights.
Rahul [Sharman Joshi] works as a call centre executive in Mumbai. He silently loves his colleague Neha [Kangana Ranaut]. A smart young woman who has climbed the ladder in a very short time. And hard work is not her only secret. Because her boss, Ranjeet [Kay Kay Menon], loves her and is willing to shower her with gifts and opportunities… only if she is willing.
In his 30s, Ranjeet is married to Shikha [Shilpa Shetty] with a 6-year-old daughter. They had decided that she should stay back at home and take care of the house and the kid. Ranjeet ventured out on his quest for money and success… and forgot his family somewhere on the way. And bitterness and boredom crept into their relationship. Soon he found solace and a fresh lease of life in Neha.
Neglected by an indifferent husband and bogged down by family chores, Shikha is soon attracted to Akash [Shiney Ahuja], a struggling theatre artist whose wife divorces him because she cannot stand his failures anymore. Akash and Shikha's love blossoms and she almost crosses her limits.
Amol [Dharmendra] is a 70-year-old man who returns to India after 40 years. To spend the last few years of his life with his first love, Vaijanti [Nafisa Ali]. The lady lives in an old-age home and is Shikha's aunt who gives moral strength to Shikha.
Shikha's sister and Neha's room-mate, Shruti [Konkona Sen Sharma], works at 'Radio Mirchi'. In her 30s and still a virgin, she's desperate to get married. She is dreamy eyed about her RJ, Wishy K [Gautam Kapoor]. She also meets Debu [Irrfan Khan] through a matrimonial site. She hates him. But Debu doesn't.
Now let's have a microscopic view of what works and what doesn't…
Director Anurag Basu's handling of a few dramatic and emotional moments is exemplary. Dharmendra's introduction at the railway station, the tense moments between Kay Kay and Shilpa, the entire track featuring Irrfan and Konkona including the sequence on the rocks [after they've shopped for Irrfan's wedding] and the sequence when Shiney and Shilpa are about to get physical are portions that register a strong impact.
Also, the handling of the multiple stories concurrently is praiseworthy, for not once does confusion prevail since so much is happening to so many characters.
On the flip side, the culmination of a few stories looks hurried and half-baked. The Dharmendra - Nafisa Ali story deserved a better conclusion. The one depicted in the film is so filmy! Similarly, Kangana suddenly realizing that she needs to be with Sharman in the end [she leaves Kay Kay stranded] looks unbelievable.
The culmination to the Shilpa - Kay Kay story is ludicrous. Shilpa is about to leave her home when the door bell rings and she finds her husband [Kay Kay] staring at her. He seems repentant and one assumes he has returned home on a rebound [Kangana has dumped him]. Surprisingly, Shilpa goes back to the heartless guy, bidding goodbye to Shiney, who genuinely loves her. Wrong ending!
Another area where the film suffers is that each and every song has the 'Metro Band' coming up from nowhere and humming the lines. Agreed, they are good singers and using the Band in a song or two would've been okay, but every song? They're such a terrible put-off! Besides, the music [Pritam] is strictly okay.
METRO is embellished with superior performances, with Shilpa, Kay Kay, Irrfan and Konkona vying for top honors. Shilpa delivers her finest performance thus far, much better than her work in PHIR MILENGE. In fact, this performance needs to be remembered when the 'Bests of 2007' are compiled during the year-end. Kay Kay is exceptional. You hate him, detest his very sight, all thanks to a terrific portrayal.
Irrfan is the life of the show. You're bound to run out of adjectives to describe this performance. He's sure to appeal to every strata -- elite, intellectuals, classes, masses, kids… Konkona compliments Irrfan beautifully all through. A brilliant performance yet again. Dharmendra is simply superb. He makes you moist-eyed at several places. Sharman Joshi underplays his character beautifully.
Kangana is not in form this time. Shiney Ahuja is passable. He deserved a few more meaty scenes. Nafisa Ali is grace personified. Gautam Kapoor is adequate. Manoj Pahwa is okay.
On the whole, METRO could've been a path-breaking experience, but the faulty writing throws a spanner. At the box-office, the film caters to the multiplexes of big cities mainly. The initial weekend business will be encouraging at select metros, but things might get shaky eventually.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2.5
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