Cast: Vinay Pathak, Amruta Subhash, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Ashwin Mushran, Sameer Kochhar
Director: Ruchika Oberoi
Island City is a creatively crafted and entwined narrative that gives an insight into the life in Mumbai. But is it really a true take? Well, taking into consideration the blend of urban alienation, sarcasm and stoicism it offers, the film offers an ironic, yet relatable perspective on how people live in the city.
Director Ruchika Oberoi uses three delicately overlapping stories - Fun Committee, Ghost in the Machine and Contact - based in Mumbai with the sole aim of unearthing Mumbai’s ever-changing facet. While the stories are different in the way they have been constructed, what’s common is how they effectively puts forth human emotions.
The first story, Fun Committee revolves around the boring life of an assiduous workhorse Suyash Chaturvedi (Vinay Pathak). A shy, aloof and an almost deserted worker doesn’t know how to react when the tyrannical company for which he works asks him to have fun. While Fun Committee captures the corporate drill in the most appropriate way, and shows how things change when Suyash's coupon envelope gets exchanged with that of a terrorist, it also sets the tone for the next tale. Ghost in the Machine is also about another Systematic Statistics staffer, Anil (Bhushan Vikas).
While he is admitted into a hospital after he slips into a coma following an accident, his subservient wife Sarita (Amruta Subhash) and mother (Uttara Baokar) use the phase to live their lives according to desires. It is interesting to see how their addiction to a TV show, Purushottam where the eldest son (Samir Kochhar) symbolizes the ‘sanksari’ husband and son. His role leaves such an indelible impact on them that his significance conquers the importance of the ‘real’ man in their lives.
The third story in the narrative, Contact gives an insight into the life of Aarti Patel (Tannishtha Chatterjee), who works in a printing press to support her family. As an uncivilized car mechanic, Chandan Roy Sanyal stands in stark contrast to Aarti. While Aarti prefers to say quiet, he uses swear words sans any qualms.
While Ruchika has done a brilliant job in fleshing out her characters, the film comes with multiple moments of predictability. However, it isn’t easy to write a film which belongs to a mixed genre - melodrama, tragedy, and slice-of-life. Sylvester Fonseca’s cinematography complements Ruchkia’s narrative. He is impressive in the manner he uses his camera to express seclusion, anxiety, and joy - that the characters experience in the bustling metro.
Barring a few glitches, the film is watchable, courtesy the cast that performs proficiently. Vinay Pathak is surprisingly restrained, but you’d still break into an applause each time you see him. Amruta Subhash’s transformation from a submissive wife to an independent woman is striking. It is interesting to see how her silences lend significance to the inner turmoil her character is battling. Tannishtha Chatterjee, as always, effortlessly slips into the role of an introverted girl.
But the real star of Island City is Ruchika Oberoi who proves that cinema is truly a director’s medium.