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Friday, August 06, 2021

City Of Gold

A bilingual film by Mahesh V Manjrekar,builds up so slowly that you start getting impatient,and then post interval,it becomes the film it set out to be: a stark,moving picture of working class men and how their machines fell silent on them.

Written by Shubhra Gupta
New Delhi | April 23, 2010 3:27:21 pm

Cast:Sachin Khedekar,Seema Biswas,Satish Kaushik,Kashmira Shah,Sameer Dharmadhikari,Shashank Shende,Veena Jamkar,Karan Patel,Siddharth Jadav

director: Mahesh V Manjrekar

rating:***

The mill workers strike of the 80s in Mumbai impacted not just those whose families were slowly forced out of their livelihoods and homes from the area in and around Parel. The whole character of the city changed: with the mainstay of income of thousands of mill workers having vanished,the men wasted away,the women did what they could to keep the home fires burning,and the children gravitated towards hopelessness and crime.

‘City Of Gold’ is a bilingual film by Mahesh V Manjrekar (its Marathi version,‘Lalbag Parel’ released three weeks ago),and you see that it’s been made by a man who knows this life not from the outside,but deeply,intimately. It builds up so slowly that you start getting impatient,and then post interval,it becomes the film it set out to be: a stark,moving picture of working class men and how their machines fell silent on them.

There’s a texture to films whose characters are completely in sync with their settings that can’t be faked. Every single character in ‘City Of Gold’ feels right,and while Manjrekar doesn’t go for too many subtleties in the way he portrays his people,he also shows a surprising delicacy of touch here and there: this is a film that grows on you.

All the actors are real and rooted. The ones familiar to us from Hindi cinema are Sachin Khedekar ( a thinly disguised Datta Samant like figure),Seema Biswas ( long-suffering mill worker wife and mother ),Satish Kaushik ( a failed husband),even Kashmira Shah ( his hankering-for-a-child wife,who’d look sexy in a sack). But the real stars of this film are other faces,some of whom we see for the first time in a Hindi feature : Veena Jamkar,the daughter who goes from one starving mill worker to another,Karan Patel,her hot-headed brother who veers towards the local goon,Siddharth Jadav,who’s called,deliciously,Speedbreaker.

You only wish that Manjrekar had made this old story new in the way he comes at it: there’s little startlingly fresh about it. But what there is has power,and absolute conviction.

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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