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CITY OF GOLD - Movie Review : Its Mahesh Manjrekar's spirited Indian edition of CITY OF GOD. (Review By Bobby Sing)
24 Apr, 2010 | Movie Reviews / 2010 Releases

The first time I heard the title of this lesser known movie “City Of Gold”, it reminded me of the famous masterpiece from Brazil called “City Of God”. Further the posters showcasing all the youngsters gazing with their intense eyes strengthened my doubt of it being an Indian version of the Brazilian classic. And now after watching it, I can surely say that though it revolves around a realistic plot about the closure of all Mumbai textile mills in the eighties, still Mahesh must have had “City of God” and its young cruel criminals, somewhere at the back of his mind while making this.

But the above comment should not be taken as anything negative against the director since it’s not easy to go anywhere near the “City of God”. Mahesh has made this movie with his strong conviction and the end result brings him back with his golden touch of “Vaastav”. In fact, only a person with a first-hand experience of the city and those tough times could have made such a movie with perfection, depicting the ground reality of the struggle faced by all the mill workers and their families in those difficult years.
“City of Gold” revolves around a particular family and their neighbors living in a local chawl. The head of the family is waiting for his gratuity income to be released by the Mill owners after his retirement and his 3 young sons are still struggling to make some money in their own legitimate and illegitimate styles. Their only sister gets caught in the love web of a local shop owner which puts the family in a more embarrassing situation than ever. Mahesh brilliantly puts forward the hardships suffered by the family in his own unique style which also reminds the viewer of a few scenes seen in his “Vaastav”. But one doesn’t mind the similarity as the narration just takes you on with its racy pace and superb acting by its entire cast ensemble on the screen.
The best scenes of the movie include the ones written around the young kids and adolescents, who are excited enough to hold the gun and pull its trigger to kill anybody. The sequences involving the young ones killing for fun, food and revenge are the most intense and disturbing sequences of the script which are even capable of influencing the youth watching the movie. And for that reason the film is strictly meant for adults only.
Another worth watching aspect of “City of Gold” is the way Mahesh presents the internal fights of a poor family and its unintentional consequences with sheer perfection. It’s like listening to the voices of some real life family characters living next door, fighting with each other on their monetary issues. Along with providing few relief moments for the viewers at regular intervals, Manjrekar also touches many serious social issues like forced abortion, suicides due to poverty, builder-criminal nexus, government’s involvement in the proceedings and direction less youth surrendering to crime, in his realistic portrayal of the city. The movie is sure going to be an eye opener for all the youngsters who simply have no idea about what was there before all these big shopping malls and multiplexes came into existence in their city.   
However, apart from all the above mentioned merits of the movie, I still found something missing in it which could not revive the magic of watching Mahesh’s earlier take on youth crime. On second thoughts, I found two points which were more or less responsible for restricting “City of Gold” to reach a cult status of its own.
One, due to the excess attention given to all those gripping scenes of the youth involving in crime, the movie slips from its main plot of Mill workers and their fight for their rights. Towards the climax their union leader is surprisingly treated as a clown by both his family and worker friends, which in turn lessens the overall impact of his previous efforts shown in the movie. In the second half it more becomes like an underworld flick revolving around the builder-criminal nexus killing everyone in the end.
And Second, even though the movie is high on content, superb in execution and moves at a great speed following a brilliant edit, yet it scores quite low on the emotional quotient. Apart from a few scenes, the viewer doesn’t really feel related to anyone on the screen emotionally. Due to the presence of too many characters in the script they all lack the much needed depth in their characterization. More specifically, I found the emotional connect missing in the movie which is a must in a realistic project like this. As the end credits role, you are impressed and majorly satisfied yet don’t feel sorry for any character dying on the screen covered with blood all over the body.
Still, it is a commendable effort from Mahesh Manjrekar, from whom a good Hindi project was due from quite long now. “City of Gold” is also worth watching for its outstanding performances from the entire cast. Every person in the movie delivers one of the most memorable acts of his or her career. But special mention has to be made of Seema Biswas (as the mother), Sachin Khedekar (as the Uninon Leader), Siddharth Yadav (as Speed Breaker) and Karan Patel as the young leader of the gang giving a splendid performance which is sure going to be noticed by the industry.
Musically, it has one regional song in its opening titles which sets the mood in. Background score contributes a lot to build up the tense feel and Camerawork is superb capturing the 80s era and the current scenario together in its realistic frame. But the film is not meant for the soft romantic lovers who have a tendency to find romance in almost every scene of a movie. “City of Gold” is dark, it’s grim and is not for the faint hearted either. So go for it if you can appreciate the bloody genre of movies where killing a person is as simple as singing around the trees. Its Mahesh Manjrekar’s spirited Indian edition of the world famous CITY OF GOD. It may not be a masterpiece but indeed a worth watching movie based on reality.
Rating : 3 / 5

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24 Apr 2010 / Comment ( 0 )
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