A touching film based on the life of Deepak Singh in Rajasthan who comes to the City of Dreams – Mumbai with his wife and daughter in hope of a better life.
The film is a remake of the BAFTA nominated British film Metro Manila (2013).
Deepak Singh (Rajkummar Rao) was in the army much earlier. As he wanted to be with his family, he quits the job and sets up a cloth store in Rajasthan. Being unlucky, his debts go on piling on with compounded interest which finally leads to shutters down on the shop. He has nothing to do. Nowhere to go.
When his life struck by a tragedy, he migrates to Mumbai, with his wife Rakhi (Patralekha) and young daughter Mahi, hoping for a better life. Being naïve, Deepak has only a single lead as a source, that of his friend Omkar who had come to Mumbai, some time ago.
However, upon arriving, he soon discovers the challenges of life in a big city. He lands up in the city of dreams only to realize that his village mate’s mobile number in Mumbai isn’t working and there isn’t any address.
Immediately, after their arrival in Mumbai, they seek to rent a house in the city. Destiny isn’t on his side, and the family is duped of Rs 10,000 which is collected by a dummy broker and the family is actually on the streets.
They pass the night near a heap of garbage, and then Deepak’s wife comes across a lady who works as a bar dancer. It is through this Bar girl that they get to stay in an under-construction building.
Deepak Singh manages some odd jobs in the initial days after which he gets to work for a Security Firm thru Vishnu Sir (Manav Kaul). In the meanwhile his wife manages to get work in a Bar as a dancer.
The challenges they face, their encounter with a big city and how they rise to meet those challenges nurtured by the power of their love is what Citylights is all about.
It has beautiful moments like that of depiction of helplessness (when Deepak is duped by the house broker), a forlorn family on the streets of Mumbai, and the couple’s moments in despair in the backdrop of the Queens necklace and the ‘happening’ citylights.
Most of the songs are as background numbers in the film. It has some soothing numbers like ‘Muskurane’ by Arijit Singh, Darbadar (Neeti Mohan) and the touching Soney Do by Arijit Singh.
As a viewer, one can relate Deepak Singh and his wife and daughter and their sufferings and hardships to gain a foothold in this megapolis.
There are quite a few sensitive moments when Deepak Singh’s wife goes for an interview at the dance bar and her awkwardness towards questions asked to her. Then, immediately on arriving in the city, Deepak goes through various situations of a daily job seeker and the risks involved with jobs, like the one where he works as a manual labour lifting cement bags and the physical risks involved in that job.
Manav Kaul as Vishnu Sir is brilliant at Deepak’s Senior partner in the delivery van. Vishnu’s mannerisms poise and other minute nuances are meticulously shown that one feels actually a part of their conversation and deliberations.
The film is wholly on Rajkummar Rao’s shoulders and he effectively delivers. Patralekha as his understanding wife who follows him thorough the journey of his life, his decisions. She is perfectly cast in this role.
Citylights is a brilliant film and should not to be missed by lovers of serious cinema. It is a realistic portrayal of one of the innumerable naïve, innocent families and migrants to the happening city. It leaves you disturbed, distressed and leaves you with a feeling of empathy for the gullible simpleton from the heartland of India
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Rajkummar Rao – Deepak
Patralekha – Rakhi
Manav Kaul – Vishnu Sir
Sadia Siddiqui – Sudha
Vaibhavi Upadhyay – Malti
Pramod Pathak – Mhatre
Banner – Vishesh Films, Fox Star Studios
Producer – Mukesh Bhatt
Director – Hansal Mehta
Music Director – Jeet Ganguly
Lyricist – Rashmi Singh
Editor – Apurva Asrani
Production Design – Rajat Poddar
Action – Abbas Ali Moghul
Screenplay – Ritesh Shah
Background Music – Raju Singh
Costume Designers – Vivek Gaurav,Executive Producer, Kumkum Saigal