Zoo was definitely on everyone’s list this MAMI. The movie has been produced by Anurag Kashyap and co-written and directed by Shlok Sharma – the guy behind Haraamkhor. The huge cast included Shashank Arora, who was last seen in Lipstick Under My Burkha, and Shweta Tripathi – the lead actress from Sharma’s previous film. But the cast and crew was not what put this film on everyone’s radar, nor was it the fact that it was also selected for the Busan Film Festival this year. Zoo has entirely been shot on the iPhone, being the first Indian film to have do so. Naturally, we were excited to catch the film and it lived up to every bit of our expectations.
Background and Story:
Zoo primarily refers to the city (of Bombay). Even in this large space, we confine ourselves to metaphorical cages and trap ourselves within the walls of our own minds. Several stories are running parallel to each other in Zoo, not all of them interspersing with each other. The reason for this, as the director says, is that we do not engage with most people around us, and even though we see one another every day, our lives may never touch each other.
The protagonist here is undoubtedly Bicky (Shashank Arora), who works at a coffee shop, but secretly sells drugs to his clients in sugar packets. He also financially supports his roommate Messi (Rahul Kumar), who is training to be a football star like his namesake. Messi soon gets wary of living under Bicky’s shadow, and after stealing his phone and client contacts gets into the drug business as well. Unlike his roommate, who has his best interests at heart, Messi gets addicted to drugs too.
Meanwhile, Bicky is getting emotionally attached to one of his clients. Misha (Shweta Tripathi) is an urban girl who hasn’t left her apartment in two years. She suffers heavily from PTSD after a drug-fuelled accident sent her best friend and roommate into a coma. Bicky gives her the drugs to help her cope and also spends a lot of time at her flat, just giving her the company she needs.
Another narrative that was added to the script later is that of two slum-dwelling rappers, Prince (Prince Daniel) and Yoku (Yogesh Kurme), who idolize Biggie and Tupac. Their rap songs send them to places, which ultimately leads to an unfortunate incident towards the end. They are the true stars of this story – their satirical lyrics raising questions that many of us “educated” folk have stopped asking.
Why You Should Watch:
Before watching the film, we had many reservations in mind about what an iPhone film would look like. But what we got from Zoo is a film that beautifully captured the stories of its characters. This film was not bound by the laws of filmmaking. The camera was not shaky, as one would expect it to be. Even the lighting worked perfectly in most scenes, especially the ones shot in the dark. Certain scenes definitely stood out in terms of cinematography – something we wouldn’t have noticed in a regular film. The sound was brilliantly used to display the appropriate emotions and set the audience in the right mood.
While the technical aspects of this film were its highlight, the performances also stood out. Shashank and Shweta, though, take a backseat, especially where Prince and Yoku are concerned. The two non-actors stole our hearts with their performances on-screen, and some of us MAMI folk were lucky enough to watch them rap live after the screening. When they were asked about why they sing, Prince calmly replied, “If you don’t ask the questions, who will?” We don’t expect to see them on screen anytime soon, but if the duo is performing any shows, you might want to keep an eye out for them on BookMyShow.
What You Should Watch Next:
We can only wish that Zoo makes its way into mainstream theatres in India. If you are still at MAMI today, Omerta (Hansal Mehta’s drama on the terrorist who killed Daniel Pearl has two shows at PVR Icon). Other Indian movies you need to watch out for are Ralang Road, Up Down & Sideways, Village Rockstars, and Juze.