With the backdrop of a metropolitan city, Anurag Basu’s ‘Life in a Metro’ attempts to demonstrate the conflicts of the practical and the emotional sides of the human mind. And it commendably succeeds in its attempt.
The director employs seven complex characters to narrate his story but expresses his vision very lucidly. Metro is one of those films that do not differentiate between the leading hero and the supporting actor with all characters having equal significance in the story. Akash (Shiny Ahuja) forms an informal bond with Shikha (Shilpa Shetty) and finds solace in her company despite knowing that she is married to Ranjeet (Kay Kay Menon). Ranjeet on the other hand has an illicit affair with his office subordinate Neha (Kangna Ranaut) sans any emotional bonding. Rahul (Sharman Joshi) who works in the same company is attracted to Neha but is oblivious to the fact that he is lending keys of his flat to his boss who is using the venue to sleep with the girl Rahul has been dreaming about all this while. Then there is Shikha’s sister Shruti (Konkona) who is still a virgin at 30 and is unproductively hunting for prospective grooms through marriage portals. One such unique sample piece she encounters through the matrimonial service is Monty (Irrfan Khan). In a parallel story, a sexagenarian Amol (Dharmendra) reunites with his college ex-flame Vaijanti (Nafisa Ali) for a live-in relationship.
Without being episodic, each tale of Metro is interlinked with the other beautifully. None of the relationships come across as conventional coalitions and each bonding is treated very maturely. There is no one particular black character but every individual is shown to have a grey streak. The film has no idealistic heroes but points out imperfections in characters, something with which every discerning audience could identify with. Every character is exploited with one particular emotion and each one tries to overcome the guilt with their practical approach in the Metro life.
The film is sensibly scripted and crisply edited to two hours with a sufficiently brisk pace. The screenplay effortlessly changes track to its subplots before any particular plot tends to get monotonous and very smoothly comes back to the original subplot before you could lose track of the core story. Despite having strong emotional intensity in its theme the treatment is very subtle devoid of any melodrama. While dialogues are usually taken notice in comedy films, the lines penned for Metro are very sharp and non cliched. Unlike Anurag Basu’s last film Gangster, Metro isn’t an out-and-out dark film but has sufficient dose of witty humor that basically comes out in the Irrfan-Konkona track and the initial reels of Sharman’s story.
The script as such has no scope for music in the film but the director very skillfully assimilates songs in the screenplay with each number used as a transition track playing in the background. There is a song for each emotion in the film. Music director Pritam and his band appearing in every track onscreen performing somewhere in the background is a unique concept though after a point of time they tend to get monotonous. This is one film where songs despite being unnecessary, don’t look forced.
Performances are a major USP of the film with each character excelling. Each actor gets at least one scene in the film where they steal the show. This is unarguably one of the most performance oriented roles that Shilpa Shetty has done in her career other than Phir Milenge. She is worthy of all the applause for the vulnerability she displays in this role over the undeserving Big Brother hype. Male chauvinism oozes from Kay Kay Menon’s flawless act of an egoistic husband. It’s nice to see Sharman Joshi in roles that are not essentially designed as comic characters. And it’s nicer to watch Konkona Sen Sharma loosen up in a role that doesn’t require her to be the regular intense actor. And however intense his character be, Irrfan Khan always has this ability to bring in a tinge of humor to it. So when in this film he is expected to be humorous he has you in splits with his unusual sense of humor. Even Dharmendra who was jaded off in B-graders, looks so fresh in this film. The director’s quirkiness shows off when, from all the couples, he chooses the sixty-plus couple to indulge in a fervent smooch without using it to titillate.
Metro starts on a very practical note where all its characters think from their brains and ends on a very emotional note when their heart takes over. Anurag Basu does the same, using his brains to win our hearts.
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