sort of like Sliding Doors or
Kiewslowski’s Blind Chance with a lot
more rain and guns. On his first day with Inspector Khan’s special anti-crime
unit, a fresh recruit confronts a suspected murderer, sans back-up. He will either
freeze, shoot to kill, or possibly split the difference in Amit Kumar’s
muscularly moody crime drama, Monsoon
screens during the 2014 Cleveland International Film Festival.
the son of a totally above-board cop, the green Adi is a bit shocked by Khan’s borderline
vigilante tactics. Mumbai’s top brass makes a show of tut-tutting at the
frequency his suspects are shot while trying to escape, but it is clear they
are turning a blind eye. Khan is determined to bring down the Slum Lord, Mumbai’s
descriptively named vice and extortion kingpin. His best lead is Shiva, one of
the Slum Lord’s most reckless and dangerous assassins. After a rocky start, Adi’s
brief career goes from bad to worse when he faces Shiva in that classic dark
alley setting. Should he shoot or stand there flat-footed letting Shiva escape?
Khan will have some choice opinions regarding either decision that he will
express as viewers watch Adi’s alternate timelines play out.
of the cool things about Shootout is
the way the competing narratives parallel each other in clever ways, despite
the distinctly different choices made by poor hapless Adi. At various times, he
seeks treatment from his ex, Anu the nurse with a social conscience. By the
same token, he always tracks down Geeta, a prostitute favored by Shiva.
Conversely, radically different sides of Khan’s character present themselves
during each variation on the theme.
Khan, Neeraj Kabi excels at grizzled badassery, while bringing out more human
qualities when the various circumstances allow. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Shiva
also delivers enough glowering menace to satisfy any genre fan. While not a lot
of heavy lifting is required of model-turned-indie actress Geetanjali Thapa,
the more traditional romantic role of Anu represents something of a departure
from her migrant workers advocacy films, such as I.D. She has passable screen chemistry with Vijay Varma, who broods
as well as anyone could ask, even though Adi is to a large extent a passive
puppet of fate.
Even though Shootout
has a somewhat gimmicky structure, Kumar deftly uses each take to build and
expand the tragic irony. All three parts also hum along quite nicely as gritty
procedurals. It is a quality production
with considerable genre appeal, particularly distinguished by cinematography Rajeev
Ravi, who makes the rain and nocturnal slums look like visual poetry.
Recommended for fans of parallel and popular Indian cinema, Monsoon Shootout screens Saturday (3/22)
and Monday (3/24) during this year’s CIFF.
Labels: CIFF '14, Geetanjali Thapa, Indian Cinema, Nawazuddin Siddiqui