Mahesh Manjrekar returns with a story of crime with a mill and its workers as a backdrop. Workers forced to retire by greedy mill owners who’d rather use the space for far more profitable ventures start an agitation, and the tale of a family that sees many downs follows. The banter between the family members seems excessive from the beginning, and too many layers make City Of Gold a highly inconsistent watch.
Poverty, helpless, frustration, anger boil over every now and then, doses of lust ooze out occasionally, and in between all this, union leaders flare at scheming mill owners, giving them a piece of their mind. The family: a retired mill worker, his harrowed wife, and their children: an unmarried, impregnated daughter, one son a wannabe writer, another son a useless cricket fanatic, the third a bhai. And it’s the bhai who keeps City Of Gold engaging, breaking people’s bones and eventually becoming a hitman for a larger gang. As mentioned earlier, City Of Gold has way too many layers, too many stories strung together, and they do hold themselves together, even when the melodrama threatens to get overbearing.
Seema Biswas has played the poor, harrowed mother too many times to get it wrong, but getting the same role right every time isn’t what it’s about, is it? Sachin Khedekar holds his own, as do a few other actors here. But it’s Karan Patel who grabs the attention as Narubhai, the sensible hitman who is enjoying his slow rise up the gangster ladder and fights for his sidekicks when required to. City Of Gold’s most interesting part is the gang of boys turning into a bunch of hooligans, robbing drunk men on deserted streets and beating the life out of those who have angered the main gangster, biting, kicking, clobbering, shooting, not just for revenge now, but also for the thrill. Crunched in between realistic cinema and attempts to stir the emotions are some strong scenes but the overall experience of watching City Of Gold is tiring and confusing; one is left wondering what the film is really aiming at.
By Aditya Mehta