Saturday, April 24, 2010

[SIFF10] Ek Tho Chance

New Dawn

Saeed Akhtar Mirza's Ek Tho Chance unravels itself over 24 hours in the city of Mumbai, and provides a kaleidoscope of story threads that get linked together sometimes through characters and events appearing in another, before converging in quite a forceful manner for the finale. With statements made about society in general or specifically targeted at certain groups, this film seemed like Crash-lite, though with stories that were quite ordinary, compared to the shots of what the real Mumbai looks like.

With an ensemble cast delivering a wide array of stories ranging from a dedicated, non-corrupt cop (Pawan Malhotra) tasked with looking for a thief (Vijay Raaz) who had stolen from an ex-Minister (Saurabh Shukla), the emotional connection between the thief and a beer lady (Ashwini Kalsekar) where they find solace and peace in each other, the relationship problems faced by a rich family, the cliche rich playboy (Ali Fazal) going after an ingenue model (played by Amrita Arora) who's also admired from afar by her nerdy friend (Purab Kohli), and the adventures of two brothers (Zaki Kazi and Zafar Karachiwala) who have left their village in Utta Pradesh looking forward to a modern city life.

Mirza weaves a kaleidoscope of stories and emotions through his narrative, about the search for real friendship in a city of strangers, of that innate human need to connect with others, or the quest for true love, of sticking together in the face of adversity, and the likes. There's no big moment in the film as it touches on a wide spectrum of feelings on a fleeting basis, and contains pointed barbs at things like how irresponsible rich youngsters who think they own the whole world can be, how politicians or ex ones tend to throw their weight around like a spoilt brat, and the notion of a sliver of hope that there are a few good cops left in a corrupt system, although I chuckle at and am quite amazed that cops, if what's depicted in the film is true, that they can bitch-slap just about anyone during routine questioning. There's also a heavy highlight on the clash of conservative values with modern cultural influences from outside.

One of the staples of most Indian films are the song and dance sequences, which when done properly adds an enjoyable dimension especially when it moves the narrative forward. In the case of this film, they come on quite jarringly, and were very out of place as characters inexplicably break into song, though credit goes to one sequence which had the Mumbai residents writing the performer off as a nutcase, which works of course.

Beautifully shot without going overboard and making it look like a touristy video, Ek Tho Chance gives that glimpse of the hopes and dreams of residents in a metropolitan city, and provides that opportunity to gaze at the different parts of Mumbai, from different angles.

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