Cast: Seema Biswas, Karan Patel, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Kashmira Shah
City of Gold – In your face
City of Gold takes us into the lives of the workers of Khetaan Textile Mills. We easily become a part of this family of six living in a one room shack. The father (Shashank Shende) works in a textile mill whereas mother (Seema Biswas) takes care of home turf. Out of the four kids, Mohan (Vinit Kumar) works in a bank and is obsessed with cricket. Manju (Veena Jamkar) is learning to be a beautician. Anant is busy scripting and hopes they'll be performed in Prithvi Theatre. Whereas Naru (Karan Patel) does nothing but be a thug.
Step by step violence and vice take prominence. Naru is shown hitting a mutton shop owner. Manju's beautician friend tells her to take it slowly with her rich boyfriend. The logic behind it – 'In paisewaalon ko kaato; phir baato.' Mohan swindles 25000 over betting in cricket match. The grime piles up more as the frames flash by. Manju has pre-marital sex with Jignesh. During Ganpati Visarjan, Bajirao shoots someone. Mohan sleeps with a neighboring Mami (Kashmira Shah). To make matters seem more yuck, Mami is shown justifying her act with a speech that comes out in bits and pieces on her way to orgasm.
After interval, the trend of escalating goriness only gets severe. The scenes are so strong, it takes you on a trance. It's a hypnotic vortex that strangles you to the point of suffocation. It's not easy to handle to this bitter pill.
A lot of things go on at the same time and for the major part of the film, the focus drifts away from the problems of mill workers to the shady activities their loved ones got involved in. The negativity has been over-exaggerated to get supreme effect of shock value of imagery. Yes, you can see shades of cannibalism sprouting up among the children and prostitution as key to escape poverty for the women.
The songs are outdated, can't complain there as it could be to add authenticity. The dialogues are sleazy. Get this- A asks B - Who's that with your wife, a relative? B answers - That's dessert for you. There's no relief of humor. No positivity. Just bleak desperation and gross bloodshed.
If I'm not too wrong, then not all kids of mill workers went on to become gangsters. There were some who did cling onto education to make it big in the corporate sector, the offices of which now thrive in South Mumbai. Mr. Manjrekar could've brought an angle of positivity while exhibiting the injustice done to the workers. Or maybe, that was never what the film was about…just a phrase to spin promotions, eh?
If you can handle dark and wholly negative films, you may give it a try.
Reporter and Author: Susan Jose