Director: Amit Kumar
Cast: Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Neeraj Kabi, Tannishtha Chatterjee
Set in the dark lanes of Mumbai, Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout is a mash-up of many a significant element required to build up a neo-noir police-criminal-drama cum psychological thriller. A dedicated greenhorn, an experienced encounter specialist senior, a suspected criminal, a hungry for power politician, a grieving wife and an innocent young boy make up the players.
The story is of Adi (Vijay Varma), who is being sent out on his first criminal case, headed by an inspector Khan (Neeraj Kabi) who believes in the no-custody ideology. As the events unfold, Adi finds himself face-to-face with Shiva, the suspect (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Right in the beginning his mother reminds him of a lesson his father used to preach- there are three ways to act on a thing- right, wrong and the in-between one, and that sets the tone of the scenes to follow and the words echo in Adi’s mind long after his father is gone.
Is he the man behind extortion killing? Or just a passer-by? What if he’s innocent and ends up bearing the brunt of someone else’s crime? Should he shoot him? Should he not? Or should he take him in the custody?
Adi’s moral dilemma of which path to choose sets the foundation stone of the plot. The makers experiment with the same plot with three different actions and hence, three different consequences. In the first one, Adi does not pull the trigger and eventually, havoc is set free for which Adi too, ends up paying a hefty personal price. In the second one, he does pull the trigger but the moral dilemma of whether he killed an innocent man or actually got hold of the criminal- clouds his mind. The third sees Adi following the rule book but does that help in setting the case straight?
An artsy style of narrating a story is always welcome and in this case, is also intriguing. Certain scenes like a sculpted Ganesha idol falling in the backdrop of wrongdoings in a household or an intrinsic fear developing in the mind of a young boy over crossing a sheep tied to the fences further enrich the story-telling experience.
The fine camerawork by Rajeev Ravi captures the backdrop of the infamous Mumbai monsoon in depth and makes it a thrilling character in itself. As the film turns back to the deciding moment thrice in its course, the monsoon plays like a metaphor to the blurry thoughts, quandary and the uncertainty in Adi’s mind.
Vijay as a rookie cop is convincing except for a few parts wherein both Nawazuddin and Neeraj outshine him. A certain earnestness in his performance, however, helps him hold his own. Contrary to expectations, Nawazuddin’s character is secondary to Vijay’s Adi and while he is impressive in parts, the film doesn’t get the better of him. Neeraj shows his finesse and delivers a strong performance throughout. While Tannishtha (Shiva’s wife) and Geetanjali (Adi’s love interest) both have only small roles in the film, Sreejita De’s role of Shiva’s mistress have a significant hand in the consequences of the varied depictions.
But what dilutes the impact of the narration and a dependable cast is the familiarity of the account chosen to represent a significant psychological aspect. The basic idea that a do-gooder-rulebook-greenhorn is pulled down by the internal politics and corruption in the system overshadows the potential impressive psycho-cosmic angle of human decision making in the larger scheme of things. And ultimately gives this film a certain delusional greatness towards the climax. So what could’ve been a thrilling masterpiece remains an artsy thriller in search of a better plot.