16 May 2007 | Chrysanthepop
Life in a Metro ...scores high points but....
I've really wanted to see this movie especially because of the ensemble cast that boasts of India's most talented actors (including Irfan Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kay Kay Menon and Shiny Ahuja). I got a bit hesitant after hearing negative comments but finally decided to give it a go.
'Metro' is a cleverly made (for most parts) movie about intertwined lives of people living in the urban city. With first class cinematography the setting of the urban city is fully used. You do get the feel of the city and its chaotic inhabitants who are so busy with their own goals and yet they seem to be missing what they crave most.
Let's start with director/writer Anurag Basu. Well, Mr. Basu, this film could have been excellent if it weren't for the following flaws: one of the subplots is sort of a rip-off, some characters required more footage, the background score is intrusive at times and Basu tries too hard to put some 'subtle' messages (e.g. the poster of 'Brokeback Mountain' in Konkona's boss's room). While most of the subplots end well (although predictable), the ending of Shikha's story required better writing. It is because of this flaw that the climax isn't as powerful as it could have been. Through Shikha's decision, Basu's intention was probably to portray her as a strong woman but instead she comes off as a very weak character. However, I have to say that 'Life in a Metro' is a major step forward since his ripoff debut 'Saaya' followed by the atrocious 'Murder'.
On the flip side, 'Metro' consists of the best soundtracks of 2007. All the songs have been presented in the background, and they contribute well to the narration. The band appear now and then during each song which is quite a novel concept (but maybe their appearance should have been a more limited).
The dialogues are outstanding and very witty, especially those between Shilpa and Kay Kay, Shilpa and Shiny and Konkona and Irfan.
The whole Sharman-Kangana-Kay Kay track is pretty much a copy of the classic 'The Apartment' and 'Yes Boss'. However, here it's presented in a darker tone. Then there's a scene where Konkona discovers her boyfriend's sexuality. Now why did Basu give poor Konkona the exact scene from Page 3? The Dharmendra-Nafisa track, though was nice and sweet, at times it seemed a little out of place (except the scene with Dharmendra, Shilpa and Konkona) and forced because it doesn't fit with any of the other subplots. However, this track does somewhat add more to the actions of Shilpa's character. Nonetheless, this track of the elderly couple is still pleasant to watch.
The background score, is suitable and effective in parts but at times very intrusive and hinders the effect of the performances by giving it a more melodramatic touch.
Coming to the performances, Metro belongs to Irfan Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Konkona Sen Sharma and Kay Kay Menon. Both Konkona and Shilpa's non-verbal expressions speak volumes.
Shilpa brings out the depth in her character with such realism that we don't see the Big Brother girl or the woman who was kissed by Richard Gere, but we see a miserable and vulnerable Shikha. We see Shikha as the devoted housewife who yearns the love and affection of her hateful husband, who is so eaten by guilt at the thought of cheating on her indifferent husband that she even asks for his forgiveness (knowing that he's broken every wedding vow). This woman has proved again that she is an excellent actress when given role of substance and thankfully she's avoiding the glamour doll roles which have been overshadowing her acting talent. Her scenes with Shiny, Kay Kay and Konkona are some of the most memorable ones. There's definitely a warm (and sometimes hot) chemistry between her and her co-stars. This is definitely one of her best.
Konkona Sen is one actress who has not given anything other than mind-blowing performances. She does an excellent job, taking over a role that was initially offered to Urmila Matondkar. Here, with complete ease, she portrays her character Shruti's transition from the simple naive city girl who is frustrated with her sex-life to the sexy 'outgoing' girl to the modern and somewhat mature girl in love. Her scenes with Irfan are hilarious and equally memorable as the scenes mentioned above.
Irfan Khan is equally excellent as is Shiny Ahuja. We see both these characters respectively from Shikha and Shruti's point of view. Irfan makes full use of his limited screen time (but his character very much resembles the one he played in '7.5 Phere'). One would have hoped that Basu gave Shiny's character more footage. His character was one of the most interesting but hardly has more than a few scenes. Yet, he does more than a remarkable.
Menon's character is probably the most hateful of all. The actor is a complete natural (though this does remind you a little of the character he played in Silsiilay). However one could argue that his character is a bit one-dimensional except in the scenes with his daughter where we see a loving father. The character needed further development.
Joshi is improving with every movie while Ranaut is repeating her Sana Azim damsel in distress from 'Woh Lamhe'. She's adequate but just like Woh Lamhe, here too a more mature actress would have been better suited. In their limited presence, Dharmendra is very likable (thank God, no Amitabh in this one) while Nafisa Ali shines.
All in all, this is more than just a watchable flick. It's definitely more than worth a watch among the movies releasing nowadays. What stand out most are the amazing performances. You do take something with you after leaving the theatres.