Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Ragini Khanna, Akshay Oberoi, Aamir Bashir, Shalini Vatsa
Director: Shanker Raman
Quick take: Slick and gruesome
Human beings can be quite dark and gruesome if they want to be. Debut filmmaker Shanker Raman’s Gurgaon is a sneak peek into what kind of darkness ordinary people are capable of. There’s also a subliminal comment on the rise of Gurgaon from farming land to super city. The loss of innocence as the metropolitan ambitions of human beings lead them to abusing their own relationships. This one’s a dark, brooding sort of noir film. Its certainly shot like one of Gaspar Noe and Benoit Debie’s French collaborations. If only it had better pace and music, it would’ve been an absolute classic.
The story deals with the family of a real estate baron named Kehri Singh (Pankaj Tripathi). Kehri is an erstwhile farmer who sold off his land and his soul to become a remorseless businessman. His son Nikki (Akshay Oberoi) absolutely hates Kehri’s adopted daughter Preet (Ragini Khanna). When Nikki gets caught on the wrong side of cricket betting he hatches a plan to kidnap his stepsister. Gurgaon the city, is one of the fastest growing economic zones in India. Faster still are its crime stats. So that forms a large base for the story of Gurgaon the film. Nikki’s treachery unlocks a storm of crime and deceit.
For the cinematography alone, this film deserves a standing applause. The frames aren’t just visual masterpieces they’re gritty and sensational, crafting out a surreal mood for the film. Director Shanker Raman has been cinematographer for dozens of years, so no wonder his debut feature has such stellar camera work. The technical aspects of Gurgaon are excellent except the choice of music. The slow tunes with Indian classical influence, do feel artistic but this thriller needed the thump of a more chilling soundtrack. The music and the slow paced narrative just steal a great deal of terror and malice from Gurgaon.
The performances though are excellent. Pankaj Tripathi’s portrayal has shades of The Godfather with exessive alcoholism though. But his dark and deliberate performance is fantastic. Aamir Bashir plays his younger brother and in a brief role, does well to infuse some extra intensity to the movie. Ragini Khanna and Akshay Oberoi are good in their roles too.
Shanker Raman’s Gurgaon has thrills, twists and a dark storyline that can give you goosebumps. At times it’s a little too slow for comfort, but even then the visual detail and visceral content of this thriller make it a surreal and very enriching experience.