April 23, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): City of Gold is a 2010 Hindi movie directed by Mahesh Manjrekar with Ankush Choudhary, Siddharth Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar, Seema Biswas in lead roles. Read the film review at CalcuttaTube.
Starring: Ankush Choudhary, Siddharth Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Karan Patel, Seema Biswas, Shashank Shende, Vinay Apte, Satish Kaushik, Kashmira Shah
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Movie Review by Sampurn
City of Gold- Manjrekar back in form!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5*
Set in the early 80s, City of Gold narrates the tale of mill workers who lost their daily livelihood thanks to the greedy mill owners who were hand in glove with the government officials and Ministers.
Anna (Shashank Shende) and his wife (Seema Biswas) hit hard times after the closure of Khaitan Mill. They have four children, playwright Baba (Ankush Choudhary), bank peon Mohan (Vinit Kumar), beauty parlour employee Manju (Veena Jhamkar) and Naru (Karan Patel) who is a good for nothing turned small goon. Along with his friend Speedbreaker, (Siddharth Jadhav), Naru indulges in bhaigiri and is the only one who succeeds in bringing in some money whenever needed. Manju has an affair with the local bania’s married son and becomes pregnant. This shocks Anna so much, he suffers a stroke and is paralysed. Meanwhile, Mohan is having an affair with Mama’s (Satish Kaushik) wife (Kashmera Shah), who eventually delivers her lover’s child. However, the mill workers continue to suffer with one family committing suicide. Union leader Rane (Sachin Khedekar) tries to persuade the mill owners to reopen the mills but they are adamant on building residential towers on the land. How the fight between mill workers and owners ruins lives of both sections forms the rest of the drama.
Mahesh Manjrekar deserves kudos for attempting such a film which exposes the nexus between the mill owners, politicians and corrupt bureaucrats. It’s a dark reality that till date there are thousands of families that have suffered due to the untimely shut down of such mills. Manjrekar has chosen to focus on one such family in the film, the Dhuri family. The narrative is pacy in the first half but gets very violent in the second half as the proceedings get grittier. Full marks to Manjrekar and his team for mounting early 80s Mumbai without resorting to gimmicks of any sorts. Right from clothing style to transistors to old Black and White TV, all are straight out of 80s real life. The script however is the main hero of the film. With so many multiple tracks running parallel, it’s a tough job to balance it all out right till the end but the Manjrekar and his writer Jayant Pawar have managed it well. There is a good lavni during the opening titles of the film featuring Resham Tipnis.
There is a huge ensemble cast with each and every one pitching in their best. The best performers are Siddharth Jadhav, Karan Patel, Seema Biswas and Sachin Khedekar. Samir Dharmadhikari playing the evil mill owner is impressive too.
It is a must watch film for those who like serious cinema and have no idea what once stood in Mumbai’s Lalbaug Parel area where now stand huge multi storeyed towers and corporate offices. It’s a great come back to form by Mahesh Manjrekar after a long gap.
Movie Review by IANS
There is no room for artifice in Mahesh Manjrekar’s latest work. A raw, gritty look at the world of the ravaged, ‘City Of Gold’ is as powerful in portraying a bereft working class as ‘Molly Maguires’ was about Irish mine workers… Except for the fact that there is no room for pretty visuals in ‘City Of Gold’.
Manjrekar’s chawl-life, captured on camera with merciless frankness by Ajit Reddy, is a bleak world of dreamers and losers who are often the one and the same. His heroes (if we may call the young characters that) are offered no hope of solace or redemption. This is the side of the slum that Danny Boyle missed when he made ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
‘City Of Gold’ is neither stylish nor swanky enough to attract elitist readings of poverty. Fiercely radical in thought and intensely socialistic in execution, the film plunges beneath the poverty line to emerge with characters whose despair is not an act for the camera. The sweat and grime, the corruption and crime are characters of their own in Manjrekar’s chaotic world.
Mumbai never looked murkier and less inviting.
Taking a panoramic look at the lives of thousands of mill workers in Mumbai who went on an indefinite strike in 1982 is like trying to hold the ocean in a tea cup. Manjrekar, in what could easily be rated as his finest, most cogent work to date, does just that.
He holds a universe in the eye of the camera. It is a world of the doomed and damned, no frills attached.
His return to fine form and the enrapturing energy level that sweeps across a multitude of lives without trivializing any of the characters are reasons enough to celebrate the joys of neo-realistic cinema.
But wait… ‘City Of Gold’ not only marks the return of a storyteller who tells it like it is, without the comfort of shortcuts. It’s also a macroscopic look at people who populate the fringes. Their silent protests are seldom heard in cinema.
Not for a second do we feel any comforting distance from the misery of Manjrekar’s characters.
Manjrekar shoots his characters’ emotions in tight, comprehensive close-ups but wastes no time shedding excessive tears over their lives. The editor (Sarvesh Parab) cuts the raw material with ruthless economy, leaving no room for humbug and certainly no space for commercial embellishments.
So the question, what happened to those thousands of mill workers who were overnight rendered bankrupt after the mills closed down? You will find some uncomfortable answers in ‘City Of Gold’. But most of the time you will be faced with questions about the quality of life we choose to hand over to those who are economically and emotionally weak.
Would this film have worked without the actors who don’t look like they are facing a camera? The whole batallion of characters flicker to life as though they were a part of an extended family shot by hidden cameras for a reality show.
Television actor Karan Patel as the youngest scion of Manjrekar’s troubled family is a revelation. He portrays pain, humiliation, angst, compromise and anger with complete authority.