Citylights - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

A seemingly sad and touching story that doesn't stir you from within.



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Wogma Review

A couple from deep inside Rajasthan loses all hopes of a livelihood in their village and move to the city of hopes, Mumbai. Given the texture of the film, you know they are going to suffer. A lot. Before they get any respite, if at all. Now, we know where this is going and so have to heavily bank on the details of how this comes about and the performances. One delivers, the other not that much.

There's no better way to put this - the difficulties in the lives of Deepak (Rajkummar Rao) and Rakhee (Patralekha) come to easily. Yes, given their value system they are asked to do pretty horrendous things. But, you don't see their resistance. You don't see them looking for better options before stooping low (by their own standards).

This is where I lost interest in the film, despite liking the pace at which things were playing out. Then I wondered if it was because Deepak and Rakhee were made out to be generalizations of all immigrants into a city. While some times such stereotypes work, at most times the cliché has to work harder to create an impact. And to that end, Citylights was doing nothing. Every once in a while, it becomes the story of this particular person, Deepak. And at those times, it does engage, but quickly it slips back into being this sad story of how people from outside the city are so gullible and the city is out to get them.

I am not going to go into the argument of whether or not all non-city-dwellers are more or less unaware of how the world works and that all city-dwellers are out their to dupe the former. For I believe at some level, we all want to believe that nothing bad will happen to us and when we smarten up it changes to, I'm smarter now, so nothing bad will happen to me. Similarly, all of us will agree to cheat when push comes to shove. The only problem is that you are not convinced that push has come to shove in Deepak and Rakhee's case.

The only thing keeping the film interesting then is the performances. Rajkummar Rao and Manav Kaul are thoroughly engaging, especially Manav Kaul. It might have to do more with his character too. The shade of grey, his frustration and reasons for doing what he does are all interesting. Patralekha on the other hand does well with what she's asked to do. How I wish her character had better depth for it to explore her acting skills.

Then you have the background score and the songs. They both hinder instead of help. Somehow, the film's ambience isn't congruous with the music. The music by itself is pretty mediocre too. They sounded more like they belonged to a Bhatt film while they were in a setting that wanted to be in the Aamir zone.

That I think is the bane. Citylights tries to be two things at the same time for some things that cannot go together. True it keeps the setting real and the performances support that theme. But, other than that, it doesn't engage. Just because a film is morose and grim, it doesn't qualify as one that reaches out to you deep within. It is not good enough to have realistic setting and performances. The story has to make you believe too. That is what Citylights misses.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A couple of murders
  • Language: Cuss words are silenced out.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A couple of kisses and making out scenes.
  • Concept: Poor villager is exposed to the big, bad world.
  • General Look and Feel: Serious, dusty.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director: 2.5
  • Lyrics: 2

Citylights - Movie Details

Citylights - Trailer

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Comments (2)

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Direction: 3
Story: 3
Lead Actors: 3.5
Character Artists: 3

Dialogues: 3
Screenplay: 3
Music Director: 0.5
Lyrics: 0.5


A typical noir film. The protagonists just get sucked into more and more difficulties no matter what they do. And there's my personal paradox; it's well made and even better performed by all the actors - but I just can't stand a noir film. Movies must entertain me and not leave me depressed.

So: no rating from me as I will give a negative rating if I follow my heart; and I will give a positive rating if I follow my mind.

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