One moment involving chance, timing and violence. A series of alternate resolutions. Anything goes with cops, crooks and endless betrayal in Monsoon Shootout, the new multi-narrative crime epic from Mumbai. My review after the jump.
Adi (Vijay Varma) is a fresh new face on the police force. His commanding officer Khan (Neeraj Kabi) is relentless and will do just about anything to take down the slum lord causing most of the drug and gang-related violence. Despite their very different approaches, Adi and Khan’s shared objective is to rid the streets of Mumbai of drugs, violence and illegal activity. One of their targets is Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) one of the slum lord’s many henchmen, who has an insatiable hunger for extreme violence and blood shed. Carrying around a gun and an axe, he doesn’t hide, but basks in his notoriety.
A series of events leads to Shiva being at the mercy of Adi during a drug bust. He has him corned but what does he do next? The moment may be singular, but the outcomes are endless. We from here on in are presented with a number of possible ends to this encounter, some with Shiva obtaining the upper hand while others have Adi climbing the ranks of the police force but of course not without serious repercussions. Every path is at the disadvantage of different players; but whose demise will the film settle on? Will our perceptions of the characters change greatly depending on the path?
The concept of endless conclusions to a single moment in a film and the rotating aesthetic of perception are exceptionally intriguing ideas. Any film that intends to alter the perception of anything is one worth seeing;so how does Monsoon Shootout squander such an intriguing idea? When any filmmaker attempts to extract the most out of characters with such a scenario and structure, they have to be characters with some form or complexity to begin with. In Monsoon Shootout, he only character with depth is that of Khan, the commanding officer. His disregard for abiding rules in an infrastructure that’s corrupt from the ground up proves compelling and interesting. Through the different paths we get a sense of who he is and we want to know more about this guy. However, Monsoon Shootout is only really interested in Shiva and Adi, two characters who hardly interact and aren’t nearly as intriguing as they should be on their own.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays Shiva is a very good actor. His talent is exhibited throughout Monsoon Shootout, despite the fact his character’s evil nature as the film’s villain is forced and at times is downright ridiculous. We’re aware the character is poorly written, but Siddiqui makes it watchable. Neeraj Kabi should also be commended for his subdued and compelling performance as Khan. This multi-dimensional character is a huge saving grace for the film. Vijay Varma (who plays Adi) on the other hand, merely exists. He keeps the same expression and the same tone in every scenario, and it is tedious to watch. His performance and lack of character encapsulate the film’s greatest weakness.
The various scenarios that emerge as a result of the one incident are very interesting as a concept, but in reality they’re forced and contrived, and we don’t believe or care for what scenario will be next. Even the film’s love interest is just a floating head that says anything Adi wants her to say. She’s not a character or a person, she’s there…because every drama needs a love interest, right? Dull characters aside, nothing is given room to breathe. Scenes are rushed and quick cuts of extreme moments of violence prove that the film’s bark is much, much louder than its bite. Monsoon Shootout loves its ideas, but not its characters or execution
By Chris Elena
Director: Amit Kumar
Writer(s): Amit Kumar
Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Vijay Varma