Fox Star Studios India Pvt. Ltd. and Vishesh Films’ Citylights (UA) is the story of a shopkeeper in Rajasthan, who comes to the city of Bombay with his wife and daughter in the hope of a better life.
Deepak (Rajkumar Rao) lives with his wife, Rakhi (Patralekha), and little daughter, Malti (baby Vaibhavi Upadhyay). The saree shop he runs is not doing well because of which he is unable to pay even the rent of the shop. The landlord throws him out of the shop for non-payment of rent.
Left with no alternative, Deepak decides to come to Bombay to try his luck. His wife is not very happy with the prospect but Deepak convinces her and asks her to have faith in him. As soon as they set foot in the city, they are cheated by two men. Life becomes so difficult for them that Rakhi is forced to take up a job as a bar dancer despite her traditional upbringing. Deepak joins as a driver for a security agency. Mhatre (Pramod Pathak), the boss of the security agency, has strict rules for his staff. All the drivers working for the businessman have to deliver safes, containing lakhs and crores of rupees, to the notified destinations. The supervisor (Manav Kaul), who was instrumental in Deepak getting the job, trains him and wins his confidence.
One day, the supervisor asks Deepak to help him break upon a safe containing tons of money. The safe belongs to their boss, Mhatre, but has been smuggled out by unfair means and hidden by the supervisor. Since the keys to the locks of all the safes are only with the boss or his trusted men, the supervisor wants Deepak to lay his hands on the key of the safe in his custody. A reluctant Deepak agrees to help the supervisor and share the loot but, as bad luck would have it, the supervisor is killed before the job can be carried out.
Deepak knows what is to be done and he also knows that if he does it, he would be committing a grave crime as he would be in possession of moneywhich doesn’t belong to him. He is also aware that if he is caught taking the key of the safe, he would be killed by his boss.
So, does Deepak attempt to steal the key and run away with the money? Or does he develop cold feet? Is Deepak able to secure the future of his family? If so, how?
The film is a remake of British film Metro Manila, written by Sean Ellis (story and screenplay) and Frank E. Flowers (screenplay). Ritesh Shah has penned a screenplay, adapted from the original. The film does not offer the audience much novelty. One has seen films in which the protagonist comes from a village or small town to the city and is initiated into the world of crime. One has also seen films in which a woman has to compromise on her principles to make ends meet. It is probably only the last part of the drama, when Rakhi gets the chain and locket of Deepak, which is new because it is typical to this story. Otherwise, although the film involves the viewer, it does not shake him, which is what it should have done to have the desired impact. Also, there’s no element of suspense or surprise as right from the time Deepak gets the driver’s job, it is evident that the supervisor has an ulterior motive because he is shown to be too partial towards Deepak, that too, for no apparent reason. Had the supervisor’s evil intentions come as a surprise to the audience, the drama would have at least shaken the audience. Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are good.
Rajkumar Rao does a very fine job as Deepak. He gets into the skin of the character and performs brilliantly. He expresses the emotions of fear, triumph, frustration, anger etc. beautifully. Patralekha makes a very promising debut as Rakhi. She acts with admirable ease and is able to convey her feelings beautifully. Manan Kaul shines as the supervisor, going through his role with the right amount of sincerity and earnestness. He is another brilliant actor to watch out for. Pramod Pathak is good as boss Mhatre. Baby Vaishali Upadhyay is alright. Gautam Berde (as the thug broker) and Shivam Rao (as the thug landlord) make their presence felt. Resh Lamba (as Waqar), Atul Mongia (as Bonnie), Murtuza (as Jaswant), Vinod Rawat (as Jayeshbhai), Khushboo Upadhyay (as Sonali), Deepak More (as the inspector), Govind Kumar Pathak (as the construction site supervisor), Mallhar Goenka (as Sachin), Sadia Siddique (as Sudha) and the rest lend able support.
Hansal Mehta’s direction is sensitive. He has narrated the subject with a touch of realism but, having said that, it must be added that both, the script and the narrative style, hold appeal for the city-based class audience mainly. Jeet Ganguly’s music is a plus point. ‘Soney do’ and ‘Muskurane ki wajah’ are beautifully composed songs. ‘Ek charraiya’ is also a melodious number. Rashmi Singh’s lyrics are very good. Raju Singh’s background music could’ve been better. Dev Agarwal’s cinematography is nice. Abbas Ali Moghul’s action scenes are okay. Rajat Poddar’s sets are appropriate. Apurva Asrani’s editing is suitably sharp.
On the whole, Citylights is a very class-appealing film with not much novelty value. It can hope to do well in select multiplexes of the big cities but not otherwise. Its mediocre investment is a point in its favour.