Ruchika Oberoi's film Island City connects three short stories around the common theme of Mumbai. (venice-days.com)
Ruchika Oberoi's film Island City connects three short stories around the common theme of Mumbai. (venice-days.com)

Ruchika Oberoi's Island City is a disturbing study of Mumbai

Island City is a disturbing work of how a huge metropolis like Mumbai throttles individual freedom, thinking and even desire. And in a way, that there seems little possibility of an escape.
By Gautaman Bhaskaran | Hindustan Times, Venice
UPDATED ON SEP 09, 2015 11:16 AM IST

It is not often that a director would allow a critic to watch his or her film before it screens at a movie festival, and that too at a prestigious one. But Ruchika Oberoi from Mumbai allowed this critic to watch her Island City -- which is part of Venice Days, an important sidebar at the ongoing 72nd Venice Film Festival.

Island City is a disturbing work of how a huge metropolis like Mumbai throttles individual freedom, thinking and even desire. And in a way, that there seems little possibility of an escape.

Oberoi strings three short stories together -- the link being the island city of Mumbai and autocratic human behaviour. In the first of the shorts, Fun Committee, a middle-aged bachelor is stuck in an endless routine that makes him almost a zombie. He works in an office that believes in organisation, discipline and obedience. Which, of course, means that none of the employees have the right to question authority. Seems like some kind of medieval dictatorship. However, when the company finds its profits dwindling because -- as a study points out -- its workforce is listless and dispirited, a plan is mooted to send each one of them on a day's trip to an amusement park, and our middle-aged bachelor is the first victim of this forced fun.





Another scene from Island City.

The second story, The Ghost in the Machine, centres on a man, who is on life-support in a hospital's intensive care unit. His family of mother, wife and two children are worried and anxious, but at the same time relieved to feel a breath of freedom. For, the man had been almost tyrannical. And while he is in hospital, the family indulges in the luxury of giving itself a television set -- an entertainment banned by the man.

The final short, Contact, is about another tyrannical man, whose fiancee is struggling under the daily grind of earning a living and facing his whimsical qualms as well as lovelessness. She finds joy and sunshine one morning when a letter arrives for her. It is a love letter from a man who does not identify himself, but waxes eloquent about his feelings for her. But will this last?

In a long email chat from Mumbai, Oberoi says: "Mumbai starts affecting you from the moment you set foot here and I did so many years ago as a single, young, impressionable woman. Many moons and bitter-sweet experiences later, certain observations and interactions with different quarters stayed with me, and I was keen to put them together to see if I could create an impression of these times of transition.

"I chose three that offered me the opportunity for some lightness as well as drama. There was the brush with certain slightly humourless upper caste people, known for their correctness, frugality and Brahminical purity, and I thought about doing something that disturbed their stoic sense of morality in a quirky sort of way."

To a question as to what specifically inspired her to make this film, she avers, "I feel quite drawn to a certain twisted, dark kind of comedy and this movie allowed me to explore working this genre. The fun of doing three-thoroughly different stories, each treated in a completely different manner also drew me to making this film."

Oberoi contends that her stories contain themes of authority and control. Each of the characters is also facing a certain kind of disconnect and then, through it all runs a grain of comedy and absurdity.

Finally, the director adds that two of the stories in her debut work, Island City, are based on her observations over a period of time. The third is a story by her husband. "However, I completely changed the characters and the setting to incorporate some of my own impressions of Mumbai city."

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Venice Film Festival.)

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
The Rajasthan high court's instruction has come on a petition filed by Karan Johar (HT Photo)
The Rajasthan high court's instruction has come on a petition filed by Karan Johar (HT Photo)

Court bars coercive step against Karan Johar in case involving Pandya, KL Rahul

By HT Correspondent, Jodhpur
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:46 PM IST
  • Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul had petitioned the high court last year seeking quashing of the FIR. The court had already given interim protection to both of them from arrest.
Close
Varun Dhawan at the wedding venue.
Varun Dhawan at the wedding venue.

Varun Dhawan arrives at venue ahead of wedding with Natasha Dalal

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:40 PM IST
Ahead of his wedding with Natasha Dalal, Varun Dhawan was seen arriving at his wedding venue, The Mansion House, in Alibaug on Saturday. See pictures here.
Close
Kareena Kapoor in a glimpse from the photo shoot.
Kareena Kapoor in a glimpse from the photo shoot.

Kareena Kapoor is all about style and glamour in an all-black photo shoot. Watch

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:22 PM IST
Kareena Kapoor has shared a video from one of her glamourous photo shoots. She is seen dressed in a black gown with a thigh-high slit.
Close
Audience will ask tough questions to contestants.
Audience will ask tough questions to contestants.

Bigg Boss 14 promo teases a power-packed Weekend Ka Vaar episode, watch

UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:28 PM IST
Bigg Boss Weekend Ka Vaar will see a number of ex-contestants grace the episode as well as few audience, some of whom will grill the current contestants. Rahul Vaidya, Abhinav Shukla and Rubina Dilaik will be asked some tough questions.
Close
Taapsee Pannu has shared a post about her 2015 film Baby.
Taapsee Pannu has shared a post about her 2015 film Baby.

Taapsee Pannu recalls the 7 minutes that changed the direction of tide for her

UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 01:14 PM IST
Taapsee Pannu has talked about her short role in Akshay Kumar's 2015 film Baby. She said it changed the direction of tide for her.
Close
Akshay Kumar has shared a new still from Bachchan Pandey.
Akshay Kumar has shared a new still from Bachchan Pandey.

Akshay Kumar announces Bachchan Pandey release date with new still

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 11:23 AM IST
Akshay Kumar has booked Republic Day holiday in 2022 for his upcoming film, Bachchan Pandey. He plays a dreaded gangster in the film.
Close
Here are top entertainment news stories.
Here are top entertainment news stories.

Jasmin Bhasin may return on Bigg Boss 14, Nick Jonas praises The White Tiger

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 11:01 AM IST
From news reports about Jasmin Bhasin returning to the Bigg Boss 14 house to Priyanka Chopra's The White Tiger earning praise from her husband Nick Jonas, here are top entertainment news stories.
Close
Having shot for ‘Mirzapur’ and ‘Raktanchal’ in Varanasi and Lucknow, actor Pramod Pathak will next shoot in Kanpur. (Sourced photo)
Having shot for ‘Mirzapur’ and ‘Raktanchal’ in Varanasi and Lucknow, actor Pramod Pathak will next shoot in Kanpur. (Sourced photo)

Pramod Pathak: I’ll shoot in my Kanpur from next month

By Deep Saxena
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:46 AM IST
UPite Pramod Pathak’s role of JP Yadav in both seasons of ‘Mirzapur’ and Tripurari in ‘Raktanchal’ gave him what his 25-year-long career could not.
Close
Actor Kirti Kulhari will be next seen in the direct to OTT release The Girl on the Train.
Actor Kirti Kulhari will be next seen in the direct to OTT release The Girl on the Train.

Kirti Kulhari on web censorship: It comes in the way of complete freedom of expression, I’m not in favour of that

By Rishabh Suri
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:44 AM IST
Actor Kirti Kulhari who was seen in two successful web series in 2020 — Four More Shots Please season 2 and Criminal Justice Behind The Doors — admits that Indian artistes owe a lot to OTT through which their work is reaching the world.
Close
Hrithik Roshan has shared his new look.
Hrithik Roshan has shared his new look.

Hrithik Roshan shares bearded look from new commercial, see pic

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:44 AM IST
Hrithik Roshan has shared the advertisement of a beard grooming brand which features him in a bearded avatar, enough to be declared as the 'sexiest don alive'.
Close
Naina Singh was last seen in Bigg Boss-14 House. (Sourced)
Naina Singh was last seen in Bigg Boss-14 House. (Sourced)

Naina Singh: One cannot hide their real persona on screen

By S Farah Rizvi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:43 AM IST
Hailing from Moradabad, reality TV star Naina Singh feels it’s tougher to be yourself on screen instead of playing a reel-life character.
Close
Salman Khan has been shooting for Antim for some time now.(Varinder Chawla)
Salman Khan has been shooting for Antim for some time now.(Varinder Chawla)

Salman Khan, Mahesh Manjrekar spotted post Antim shoot, see here

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:32 AM IST
Actor Salman Khan, Pragya Jaiswal and actor-filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar were spotted in Mumbai, after the shoot of Salman's upcoming film, Antim. See pictures here.
Close
Alia Bhatt had been shooting for Gangubai Kathiawadi and RRR towards the end of 2020.
Alia Bhatt had been shooting for Gangubai Kathiawadi and RRR towards the end of 2020.

Alia Bhatt sets the mood for the weekend: 'Can't get out of bed kinda day'

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 09:22 AM IST
Alia Bhatt shared a new selfie of herself while still lazing in the bed. She had been in news recently for her reported hospitalization.
Close
Priyanka Chopra has been promoting her new film, The White Tiger for the last couple of days.
Priyanka Chopra has been promoting her new film, The White Tiger for the last couple of days.

Priyanka Chopra thanks Nick Jonas for The White Tiger praise and the wine

UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:52 AM IST
Actor Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas celebrated the release of her film, The White Tiger. She took to Instagram to thank him. See her response here.
Close
Arshi Khan triggered the fight between Sonali Phogat and Rubina Dilaik.(Colors)
Arshi Khan triggered the fight between Sonali Phogat and Rubina Dilaik.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14: Shefali praises Arshi despite her triggering Sonali-Rubina fight

PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 07:42 AM IST
  • Former Bigg Boss contestant Shefali Bagga praises Arshi Khan for this trait of hers, despite her constant fights with everyone.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP