Plot: What the mill workers, who are rendered jobless after the closure of mills in Bombay in 1982, and their families have to go through is sought to be explained in the film. Seema Biswas’ husband is one such unlucky mill worker. She has three grown-up sons and a grown-up daughter, besides a bedridden husband to look after.
What’s Good: The performances of the entire ensemble cast, the realistic ambience.
What’s Bad: The depressing drama, the excessive violence.
Loo break: For ladies, the violent scenes; for the youth, the melodramatic ones.
Dar Motion Pictures and SatyashwamiFilms’ City Of Gold – Mumbai 1982: Ek Ankahi Kahani (UA) is a poignant tale of the hardships and misery mill workers and their families had to face when a lot of textile mills in Bombay closed down in 1982. Dhuri (Shashank Shende) is one such mill worker living in a chawl in Bombay, who is rendered jobless. His wife (Seema Biswas), a dignified lady, anyhow tries to keep the kitchen fires burning. Baba (Ankush Choudhary), Mohan (Vineet Kumar), Naru (Karan Patel) and Manju (Veena Jamkar) are the four grown-up children of the Dhuris. Baba is a budding playwright but is somewhat frustrated because his plays have no takers. Mohan loses his job when he is jailed for committing a bank fraud of Rs. 25,000 to pay for a cricketing bet he loses. Unknown to his family, Baba arranges for the money to repay the bank and thereby secure his brother’s release from prison, by selling one kidney of his. Naru gets sucked into the world of crime and although he starts in a small way, he soon starts killing people on behalf of the local don, Parshabhai (Ganesh Yadav), for money, of course. On one such occasion, he kills Govind Rahate (Vinay Apte), the father of his own best friend, Speedbreaker (Siddharth Jadhav), without knowing whom he has killed. Manju, working in a beauty parlour, gets lured by the local grocer’s son and has to abort his child. She ultimately gets married to Rane (Sachin Khedekar), one of the leading members of the trade union fighting for the rights of the mill workers against owners Khetaan (Kishore Pradhan) and his son-in-law, Mahendra (Sameer Dharmadhikari).
The film begins with Baba and his to-be wife, Mansi (Anusha Dandekar), booking a flat at Parel, a suburb of Bombay, where once the mill stood. It goes into flashback mode and recounts the turmoil of the mill workers in general and the Dhuri family in particular.
While the story (Jayant Pawar and Mahesh Manjrekar) is very touching and has its share of emotional moments, the screenplay (Pawar and Manjrekar) makes it very tense, depressing and even devoid of entertainment. In fact, what begins as a light-hearted drama, soon turns into a serious and realistic account of the travails of out-of-job mill workers and their families. It is not very likely that the young audience of today would enjoy a film of this kind with lower-middle class values, tension, unhappiness and depression written all over it. Also, the families and ladies audience would be put off by the overdose of raw violence while the youth may not take the melodrama and ultra-emotional scenes too well. One more point: the writers have assumed that the mill closure of 1982 is a chapter known to one and all, because of which they (writers) have not established too well that the drama is about all the workers of the shut textile mills rather than about just Khetaan’s mill which it deals with in great detail.
Of course, the screenplay doesn’t have flaws but then, the film is also not of the kind many youngsters in the public would like to see in today’s times. Dialogues, penned by Jayant Pawar and Abhijeet Deshpande, are as natural as natural can be.
Ankush Choudhary does an excellent job. He underplays superbly. Karan Patel shines. Both, Ankush and Karan, are able to express their frustration and helplessness wonderfully. Seema Biswas deserves distinction marks for her sterling per- formance. She is outstanding. Sachin Khedekar is very effective. Veena Jamkar is a first-rate actress and does a mind-blowingly natural job. Vineet Kumar is also very good. Siddharth Jadhav leaves a lasting impression as Speedbreaker. As his father, Vinay Apte is excellent. Satish Kaushik is endearing. As his wife, Kashmera Shah is also cute. Kishore Pradhan plays the scheming mill owner, Khetaan, with admirable ease. Sameer Dharmadhikari is very effective in a negative role. Ganesh Yadav leaves a mark. Anusha Dandekar does what is required of her. Vaibhav Mangle is superb as trade union leader Sawant. Nitin Jadhav is impressive in the role of Pakya.
Like the script, Mahesh Manjrekar’s direction is also very honest. However, the point is: how many people among the potential audience today would want to watch such realism narrated so starkly? Music (Ajit Parab & Sameer, Vidhyadhar Bhave) is functional. Cinematography (Ajit Reddy) is effective.
On the whole, City Of Gold – Mumbai 1982: Ek Ankahi Kahani may be a stark and well-made film but it won’t show good results at the box-office because it is also depressing. Too many Marathi film actors in the cast will also go against the film’s business outside Maharashtra. The English title is yet another negative point for non-metropolitan cities and towns.