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'Metro' - a Witty Look at Insensitivities of City Life

Director Anurag Basu seems to have an obsession with heights. In "Murder", "Gangster" and now "Metro", characters are seen hanging down or just sitting on ledges of skyscrapers.

In "Metro", he even gets his rock band to climb atop a building and strum guitars. And when it isn't guitars, it's Irrfan and Konkona getting on a rooftop to scream their lungs out.

It's meant to be therapeutic and we'll take Anurag Basu's word for it. "Metro" falters only in parts. Some of the narrative's punctuation marks are overemphasized. And the spiral of human relationships often seems to replicate Mike Nichols' "Closer".

And yes, Billy Wilder's romantic comedy "The Apartment" serves as a direct reference point for the Kay Kay-Kangana-Sharman triangle.

But make no mistake, this is a highly original film with a voice that seems to reverberate across a limitless canvas of feelings of people in a concrete jungle.

You know you are being sucked into the lives of characters that are largely losers in the garb of white-collar dreamers, looking for love and warmth in a cold, heartless city.

After "Gangster", Anurag Basu has got another winner in "Metro" - a subtle, sly look at a bunch of characters locked in the throes of infidelity.

Basu harnesses his narrative into a fiesta of reined-in feelings, all indicating the growth of a city that cares little about one's sensitivities.

He has an incredible eye for performances. Every actor is nearly flawless in the chaos of corroded commitments in the city. Always witty, "Metro" moves through a laconic labyrinth of laughter and some stifled sobs.

Sanjeev Dutta's dialogues are very indicative of the characters' inner world. They slice right into the characters' hearts and give us an insight into the machinations of people so busy realizing their dreams that they even forget to sleep.

On the negative side, "Metro" fails to connect us with the characters beyond their love life. If they have a life beyond their heart, we don't see it.

The film should be seen as a mellow, melancholic and sharp look at love and sex in the city. The characters move in and out of some skillfully written scenes.

Despite a frail chemistry with Shiney Ahuja, Shilpa Shetty gives a nuanced performance. Bobby Singh's camera captures Shilpa in agonized silhouettes. Kay Kay, as her insensitive husband, has a thankless role that he performs with rare understanding.

While Sharman and Kangana are surprisingly chemistry-less in their screen relationships, Irrfan and Konkona come across as the warmest couple of this jigsaw of life. Watch them in the seashore sequence and savor their outstanding emotive faculties.

"Metro" is maneuvered forward by a melee of delicious ideas ... like composer Pritam and his rock band appearing as narrators to sing their songs. The rain-motif pelts down on the plot, creating pockets of pain, desire and longing.

But the film could have done with better editing. Akiv Ali cuts the material brutally ... but not deep enough.

Film: "Life In A...Metro"; Director: Anurag Basu; Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Shilpa Shetty, Shiney Ahuja, Kangana Ranaut, Konkona Sen Sharma, Irfan Khan, Sharman Joshi; Rating: ***


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