After award winning Shahid, Hansal Mehta has another potential winner under his belt with CityLights. Starring his protege Rajkummar Rao and debutant Patralekha, CityLights is an ode to shattered dreams and human emotions. The movie is deep, emotional and show the other side of coming to the city of dreams where dreams are often shattered. The struggle for food, shelter, clothing and more than dreams and this movie shows you that dreams cannot survive without the basic needs.
CityLights is story of Deepak Singh (Rajkummar Rao) who comes to Mumbai from Rajasthan with his wife Rakhi (Patralekha) and daughter Mahi. Here he experiences the dark side of city life right from being conned for accommodation to deciding who to trust and who not to. Don’t expect this to be like any other film. Deepak believes in his values and morals and trusts that will give him an opportunity to earn a decent living in the city. But destiny has other plans for him. The film takes you to a swansong of emotions where Rao and his family are struggling for survival amidst their love and longing for their dreams from the big city of Mumbai. They say hope is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. And here Deepak has a lot of hope which in the ends leads to his destruction.
Rajkummar Rao delivers another brilliant performance. He lives Deepak’s character throughout the movie and makes us suffer with him. With each movie, Rajkummar is getting better and this shows quite well in this film. Patralekha makes an exemplary debut with her strong performance alongside Rajkummar. She holds her own in the movie with her body language and eyes doing their part in a beautiful way. Manav Kaul gives a fantastic performance as Rajkummar Rao’s partner.
The pace of the movie is quite slow which catches up after the interval with a dramatic turn and gritty end. Based on the BAFTA nominated British film Metro Manila, Hansal Mehta does a good job adapting it for the Indian audience. The music is in sync with the story, though it could have been much better. There is a strong influence of Bangla music in Ek Charraiya, with Arijit Singh, while the singer takes a complete different mood with Muskurane ki Wajah. This song is a total winner. The Citylights title track is a bit of disappointment as one expects better when you have Usha Uthup and Ustad Rashid Khan singing it for you. Overall the music like the film is full of emotions and is soulful. Jeet Ganguly continues the good work he has been doing.
Overall CityLights is a different film. It’s emotional, heart wrenching and deep. Hansal Mehta shows the dark underbelly of the city and wins with it. Every actor and character does a good job to take the story forward. The movie surely tells us, the light at the end of the tunnel might be a coming train. Filled with human emotions and hope, go watch CityLights and if you the crying kinds then take your own tissue box along. You will need it.
Rating 4 out of 5