Ritesh Shah

Hansal Mehta

Movie Review
Citylights: Writing fails to light up!!

Opinions expressed herein are that of the reviewer’s personal.FWA does not in anyway agree or disagree with them. This review is from Scriptwriting PoV so may contain spoilers..

FACT V/s fact

FACT - Citylightsis critically acclaimed all over..
fact -  There’s a problem with the central plot!!

FACT – It has some honest spellbinding acting...
fact – But there is basic problem with Characterization. How can one connect with the characters when s/he can’t identify with them or ...

FACT – The film-makers are award winners of recent times, the Writer is also well-known for his panache for this genre and the lead Actor too isa National Award Winner..
fact – Which is why we had high expectations and we did not expect some half researched plot disjointed with reality. We wanted some basic intelligence in our characters and some real problem where we could have felt yes there is a challenge..

FACT – Shut up, you seem to be purely a Writer’s PoV – I am capitalized and bold FACT so I outshine you – small lettered fact. Writing always finds backseat therefore you are small – there is little investment in you, because we have been busy with back to back films, this one immediately after SHAAHID. There is more investment in other aspects of film making, especially media etc. You know Big Time Film Makers are supporting this film and Niche audience have loved it a lot, haven’t you seen social media posts?
fact -  Yes I did, that’s why I wondered how people missed or condoned such big hole in the plot, big like I mean that pot-hole at Aarey signal..

FACT – But when you like the road, you don’t see the pot holes. Same is true with films and personalities. And that’s why Achche Din are here.. So you better shut up, it’s democracy.
fact – In Democracy one shuts up? Isn’t it an irony? Actually I thought I will get chance to voice my opposition.

FACT – You idiot. In name of democracy you blackmail me.. What is your issue?
fact - Characterization. A village simpleton comes to city and gets dragged into the BAD Criminal World of the metropolis. We have seen this in Deewar, Adalat, Satya. But one thing what was there in those films that made us identify with the characters, they all tried simple honest ways to live but when a Vijay can’t take home his hard earned money he fights back and gets drawn into the quagmire. But he was honest we know. In Citylights, Deepak is also honest. His first reaction when he learns of the vault lying in his house is to return it to its owner. But if he was honest why did he join this job in first place when he was given clear idea of its nature?
He befriends his partner who has been doing this for sometimes, who tells him everything about this business but still our Deepak continues with it. So how can we identify with this man who doesn’t try honest ways of finding work like Vijay who worked as Coolie, or Satya who didn’t want to be bullied? He knows driving, he could find a job of driver and in Mumbai we know drivers are always in demand and get paid reasonably good – at least enough to feed their families.
Ditto for Deepak’s wife. She straightway joins a dance bar because her daughter is starving. Aren’t there some other petty jobs available in city of Mumbai? How many ladies choose this when they have to fend for their kids? This is when, she does not like lecherous ogling of her employer, does not know how to dance even. Why on the Mumbai’s earth only bargirl?
Both of them transgress into illegal works without giving a shot at honesty, just for their basic needs. We can understand people who want to get rich quickly take short cuts. But taking short-cuts to feed kids is bit unconvincing. If he can pay Rs.100 per day for accommodation why can’t he feed them? If his boss does not pay him salary advance (why he risks his life for a boss who can’t pay a grand advance?) why can’t he borrow a little from the friend, who at one point even offers him a 1BHK flat to stay.
What disappoints most, Mumbai is shown in badlightslacking enough opportunities for simple honest people forcing them into crime. This is not true. At least mother Mumbai will agree with me. She’s got better ways of feeding us, her kids.
Are you listening bigger FACT? Shall I continue?

FACT (waking up)– Humm..haa, I am hearing... you may continue, if you must..
fact – I hope you listen, not just hear.. now coming to the plot. I said there is a big hole..

The Plot goes like –There’s a vault in Deepak’s flat, in which big cash is locked. He is in desperate and we even agree he must get that cash which actually belongs to his ex-boss who is a baddy. The only way to get that is to open it with a key. Attempts to break the lock will rip off the bomb planted inside. Ok you take care of that secondary logic. But a simple solution to this is to get a key maker home and get the lock opened. Why the hell, does he need to risk his life, enter the goons den for key and get killed in return? You ask any key-maker and he will do it in a jiffy for 100 bucks. Some superficial intelligence is shown in a way that he gets print of the key before dying, for his wife to make the key later. This we have seen in films of 70s and 80s. Moreover if you observe the key is also some old fashioned “Godrej” cupboard type key which we use for domestic purposes. Such (Hawala) racketeers, nowadays, use digital locking system. The person sending money has a lock code which only the receiver knows. In this digital age using such mechanical locks is primitive - unimaginative. While as writers we need to show some innovative things to our audience, we are instead taking short cuts (in hurry) to make our films.

FACT – See Bollywood has always taken such technicalities for granted and the audience does not mind it. You know Amar Akbar Anthony’s blood transfusion scene?
fact – And also Taxi No. 9211’s Will’s issue, and many others. But this is not a TIMEPASS kind of POPCORN film. It aspires to be a dark social thriller probably set to win awards. Such filmsshould aim at beingflawless in its writing. The film makers of CITYLIGHTS have won accolades and we look upto them for inspiration. I frankly don’t expect this from them.
Also in Amar Akbar..it was one scene affair. Here that is the central plot. Some more working on Writing was needed.

FACT – I think you are taking Writing a bit too seriously. People don’t give much attention to Writing if performances are good..or even if Music – or just an item number..
fact – That’s because of our vast audience base. You will find some section of audience liking something in your film e.g. an item song and making it a hit, due to the high costs of tickets. But to make the larger section like your film, you can’t ignore Writing.
Nowadays audience are well informed, they do keep check on all this. On our site’s top right corner there is a statement of Mr. Rod Sterling “Never assume you audience less intelligent than you”, they know where you go wrong. Public hai sab janatihai, as Bollywood says. But they are generous, when they like something in you, inspite of your flaws they will make you a hit film or even give you the top office. But in return as a moral duty you should not continue repeating your mistakes assuming the Public to be some dump witted commoners.

FACT – Enough preaching small fact. Just tell me in one line, this film is liked by everyone, haven’t you liked anything..?
fact – Everything but writing, as I said. I love Rajkumar’s honest acting and it was nicely supported by Patralekhaand others. I am happy that a Non-starrer film has got such benchmark success..

FACT – You better don’t call it NON-STARRER now. You know Raj Kumar Rao..
fact – Yes I know. I wish him all the best. But (fb) friend do consider the script if you want to make some classic cult films..otherwise Bollywood is always there, if that’s what is your destination.

FACT – You know there’s an English saying, “You don’t question the winning horse” and if you do you are doomed. And since it is democracy I will let you say the last word aloud,in capitalized and bold to undo your shitty observations. Say it now..
fact – SORRY!!

   Sanjay Sharma


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