Citylights is a story we have seen many times before. However, the execution of the film by the National Award-winning director Hansal Mehta makes the film intensely gripping and thought-provoking.
The film tells the story of Deepak (Rajkummar Rao) and Rakhi (Patralekha) who migrate from a Rajasthan village to the city of dreams, Mumbai, for job, money and a better life. Once they reach there, they realise the city is not what it promised to be. While she has to take to dancing in city's seedy dance bars, he gets lost in the maze of black money.
Hansal Mehta's direction adds an extra dimension to this film. Rajkummar and Patralekha slip effortlessly into their respective roles. Manav Kaul, who plays Rajkummar's friend and co-worker, also delivers an exceptional performance.
Be it cracking a lame joke or scaring Rajkummar or helping him out, Kaul does it all with ease.
The interplay of emotions and how the couple copes with city's hardships are the high points of the film.
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In one of the sequences, frustrated that his wife works in a dance bar, Rajkummar reaches home drunk and demands that Patralekha performs for him just as she does for the clients. Her anger bursts through and she beats her husband till he comes and takes refuge in her lap.
In one of the initial scenes, the wife is made to strip in order to get the job in the dance bar. Later in the film, Rajkummar and Manav are made to take off their clothes too. Equality, did we hear?
However, the film has a few howlers as well. For instance, Deepak is a villager and doesn't know English but is shown reading an English newspaper. Later, Kaul gifts Rao a house bigger than the one he himself owns.
The film is not meant for audience which wants usual Bollywood fare. Its climax, for example, may disappoint many but is likely to gain its own niche audience.
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