City of Gold - Review

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
quick review:

Sure, the concept is nice. But, the nice stuff stops there. I'm not at all passing a moral judgement on the characters' lack of character. It's just the loud and annoying way in which things play out that gets on your nerves after about an hour. And there is another 1.5 hours to go.

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It is difficult to shake of the thick legacy of mill-worker-era films like Roti, Kapda, aur Makaan and Namak Haraam. And I'm sure there were more films on the issue that I haven't seen. And despite having seen all of this at least 20 years ago, ironically, it was refreshing to see the concept on screen. But that's where the freshness ends. It then turns into regular Manjrekar-ization of the topic. Loud, louder, and if you haven't heard it yet, loudest.

The degradation of the Indian - read Bombayite - moral fiber to barely threadbare in the early 80s - be it sex or violence. The cause being identified as globalization and commercialization of semi-public property. The collateral damage due to the transition from semi-socialism to capitalism - the entire value system. All this heavy stuff is crammed in 2.5 hours. You'd think that that would make the film fast-paced and interesting. Unfortunately, it's all done in a way that doesn't touch you. It can be argued that the film might make a better impact on people who were actually affected by the mill-worker strikes, but what's a film that doesn't make you identify with characters that are unlike you?

I completely appreciate the gray shades given to each and every character. But their haphazard behavior and choppy way of moving from one sub-plot to another or one issue to another, is extremely exasperating. Not to mention, it completely highlights the confusion the makers seem to struggle with. What deserves more weightage? The mill-workers' political situation? The impact it has on the spouses and the children of these mill-workers? The demonization of corporatization? What? What?? What???

And then, you top it off with some loud acting, blaring sound design and shocking visuals. A sample of the last is situation of poverty and desperation reaching such an insane level that violence makes the youth, the nation's tomorrow, cannibals and masturbators-in-public.

I understand the frustration that Mahesh Manjrekar tries to convey, not only in this film, but all his films. And I value the courage it takes to follow through on showcasing the exasperation he feels or rather he thinks the audience ought to feel. But such on-the-face, over-the-top execution makes me wait for the interval after the first half hour of the film and for the end-credits, post-interval.

Sure, the generation born to (and after) the generation which struggled for the basics - food, shelter, and clothes - needs to be sensitized and made aware of the cost at which the luxuries to them have come. But, this one only succeeded in repulsing me from the subject.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads of gory stuff, including a human biting another human multiple times.
  • Language: Abusive language masked by substitute words
  • Nudity & Sexual content: 2-3 scenes where intercourse is implied - pre-marital, extra-marital, the works. Abortion and masturbation is also implied.
  • Concept: Mill-workers forced to go on strike in the early 1980s and the aftermath.
  • General Look and Feel: Grim, gray and brown.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 1
  • Story: 1.5
  • Lead Actors: 1
  • Character Artists: 1
  • Dialogues: 1
  • Screenplay: 1
  • Music Director: 1
  • Lyrics: 1

City of Gold - Movie Details

City of Gold - Trailer

Comments (2)

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Mike:

Seems like a serious movie but worth watching definitely.

IdeaSmith:

Actually I loved the movie. I spoke to the boy about this issue a couple of months back and he tracked this movie down for me to watch.

I don't know if it's because I spent a considerable time in the area described by the movie but somehow the stories just resonated with me.

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