Shanker Raman’s directorial debut, Gurgaon, is a parable of human greed and it’s inevitable end in aridness, an alienation from not only others, but even oneself.
Based on true events, in a city that by its very name evokes an entire tangle of politics and corruption, flashy wealth and suppressed poverty, land-grabbing and indiscriminate development, the film however distills the nitty-gritty reality of Gurugram city, into a fairytale-like stylization, not the fairy tales of Disney but the dark, desperate fairy tales of the Grimms Brothers. Forests hide violent secrets, within gingerbread houses lurk the evil witches of despair and misery.
Kehri Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) may have put his family on the great trajectory of success but nothing takes away the pain from his eyes or theirs. The cost he has paid is too high, and neither he nor his family is able to leave their past behind. His wife Karma Devi (Shalini Vatsa) and his adopted daughter Preet (Ragini Khanna) are strong women but even so, they can only react in this essentially male-driven world. This is a thriller not out to create a suspense of narrative, but a suspense of character, of conscience, particularly with Nikki Singh, Kehri Singh’s oldest son (Akshay Oberoi). Nikki eaten by jealousy, resentment, drives the story forward, how far will he go, how far can he go in an evil that seems beyond his control, an evil that is embedded in him by his father’s past? There is a brief moment of redemption possible to him in his attraction to Sophie (Anna Ador), Preet’s friend, but when she rejects him, he is flung onto a path of no return.
The stunning cinematography (Vivek Shah) contributes a great deal in creating this dark shadowy textured world behind the glass and steel facades. The mystery is further deepened by the haunting music (Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor) and the sound mix (Mohandas VP); a hum of silences that constantly builds tension, leaves you uneasy. The editing (Shan Mohammed) heightens the uneasiness, the pauses and dissolves makes you aware of the things unsaid, the monsters behind even the most monstrous faces and acts. The actors speak with their eyes, even as their dialogue is often difficult to hear completely; what they are saying is not as important as what they stand for, what they convey.
Gurgaon is not a prosaic telling of a story, but rather a poetic evocation of what we are as human beings. We do not identify with any of the characters, but in observing their experience, we are compelled to question our own selves. Perhaps in that sense we are like Hooda (Aamir Bashir), Jonty (Yogi Singha) or Chintu (Ashish Verma), helpless bystanders whose moral stance remains dubious because it is powerless to change the course of events. And yet, the film because of its belief in the inexorable playing out of cause and effect leaves you with the faith that there will always be a good force looking out for you.
Hindi, Haryanvi, Thriller, Drama, Color