Director: Santosh Sivan
Cast: Vikrant Massey, Vijay Sethupathi, Hridhu Haroon, Tanya Maniktala, Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey, Sachin Khedekar
Where: Streaming now on JioCinema
Rating: 2 stars
Based on director Lokesh Kanagaraj's debut Tamil film Maanagaram (which translates to metropolis), 'Mumbaikar', starring Vikrant Massey and Vijay Sethupathi, offers an interesting premise but the execution is abysmally underwhelming that you have to wonder what were the obligations that the actors and technicians involved were fulfilling, to have agreed to come aboard, this sinking ship.
Set in the bustling lanes of Mumbai city, 'Mumbaikar' traces the story of how ordinary citizens are caught up in unprecedented situations and how acting as per your instincts becomes your key to survive in a city that seemingly embraces all, yet remains attached to none. A young man is in search of a job, an unemployed man is seeking approval from his discerning partner, an out-of-luck driver wants another opportunity to make it big in the city and another immigrant wishes to live the apparent, glamorous lifestyle of a gangster. As their lives converge, slimy policeman, notorious criminals and a lucrative ransom are thrown into the mix. A kidnapping goes awry and everyone finds themselves fighting a battle against time.
In all fairness, the Tamil original wasn't a knockout script but Kanagaraj was able to set his film with Chennai playing a central character that adds heft to the narrative. This becomes the biggest point of contention in Sivan's Hindi adaptation. Unfortunately, 'Mumbaikar' is largely disconnected from the very city, it wishes to talk about. If I may add, the depiction of Mumbai feels forced and very stereotypical. One of the biggest reasons, why it feels so is because Sivan's lens and treatment is extremely dated. The cinematography and the production design made me feel like I was watching a film in the early 2000s.
While the eventual face-off between the central characters in the climax is a joyful treat to cherish, the long road down there is arduous and frankly, exhausting. Which is a pity because you're blessed with a star cast that is solid and dependable, yet none of them leave a lasting impression. Instead, you're left wondering what were the actors seeking from this film.
A still from the film
While Massey is earnest in his portrayal of the city slacker, Sethupathi sparks some joy with his seemingly eccentric character, but it's nothing novel to be honest. It's newcomer Hridhu Haroon though, who keeps you invested with this character arc as the hapless new employee who has to navigate his way around in a new city. Ranvir Shorey as the dreaded gangster PKP manages to infuse a new laughs but Sanjay Mishra as the cab driver is dealt with a very underwritten part. Equally wasted is the screen-space given to Tanya Maniktala, who has precious little to do.
'Mumbaikar' eventually comes across as an opportunity wasted. There was a decent screenplay and a good star cast for the win. If only some effort could've been applied in its execution.
The film is now streaming on JioCinema as a direct-to-OTT offering.