Gurgaon Movie Review: Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna’s Film Is Splendidly Crafted
Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna, Shalini Vatsa, Aamir BashirDirector: Shanker RamanRating: Four stars (out of of 5) cinematographer and screenwriter shanker raman’s directorial debut, gurgaon is set in an urban sprawl that is to be seeded. The gripping slow neo-noir, an investigation into the horrific results of patriarchy and misogyny, unfolds in a lawless landscape where humanity is on life support. the plot revolves around a power struggle in a real estate clan headed by a bad-tempered tycoon struggling to live out his violent past. the fight pits the elder’s adopted daughter and chosen successor against a stubborn and brooding male offspring driven by a sense of entitlement, hate and anger. gurgaon is splendidly crafted. it conveys the urgency and vigorous nervousness of its subject without resorting to shock film tactics. while it follows the basic tenets of the thriller genre, it never lets go and goes haywire. the writing is precise, the lens perfect, the sound design highly evocative, and the editing in tune with the bristling nature of the story. the acting, modulated and easy, is also top-notch.
“Inspired by true events”, the film delves into a murky world infested with land sharks, satta operators, petty criminals and dangerous vagrants. an ambitious young woman with a mind of her own parachutes into this cesspool. sibling envy rears its head. a kidnapping goes terribly wrong. skeletons come out of the family’s creaking closet. This is certainly not a place for talented women like Preet Singh (Ragini Khanna), who returns from the US with a degree in architecture and is ready to take the reins of the thriving empire her father, once impoverished farmer Kehri Singh ( pankaj tripathi), built on dubious foundations. a brief introduction foreshadows the unfolding of an unrelentingly grim scenario in which unspeakably horrible crimes are committed and much blood is shed. a jungle has its laws, laws established by nature, the introduction tells us. but in this particular ‘gaon‘, the rules are broken at will. here everyone imagines himself a hunter, but they have little left to hunt. the resulting turf wars are violent and disastrous. a defining scene in gurgaon unfolds entirely as a reflection in a mirror. we see a worried preet hunched over in the bottom left corner of the frame. sophie (anna ador), her american friend, physically dominates the visual composition. the latter cannot understand why preet has agreed to marry a man chosen by her father. “It’s complicated… every inch of land my father has is in my name. I can’t tell him no,” confesses the reluctant heiress. What she says next sums up exactly what she’s gotten herself into: “I’m terrified, I don’t want to be sucked into my family’s business…I shouldn’t have come back.” But now that she’s back, she must learn not to sink. that’s what the battle is about. Preet’s brother Nikki (Akshay Oberoi), upset at being summarily ostracized, detests the girl her parents “picked up from the gutter at the behest of a holy man.” the motive for adoption is anything but altruistic.
nikki and her lackeys impulsively bet that virender sehwag will reach an odi ton. the batsman falls short. Trouble breaks out when the bookie demands the money from him. With only three days to find the money, Nikki becomes disoriented. the consequences are catastrophic. We may have come across some of these products of urban alienation before, but gurgaon deviates from the norm in many ways. For one thing, it’s definitely not derived from the gangster flicks emanating from Mumbai’s independent film space. while unequivocally set in a specific place and time, it breaks free of the title’s geographic location to subtly articulate an overarching statement about unsustainable urban growth and the social fissures it causes. The screenplay (Shanker Raman, Sourabh Ratnu, and Yogi Singha, with dialogue by Vipin Bhati) invokes multiple themes (female infanticide, predatory land deals, forest encroachment, and illegal cricket betting) and uses multiple narrative threads to paint a harrowing portrait of urban dystopia.gurgaon also casts the family not as the kind of benign unit of security and well-being that much of popular Indian cinema relies on, but as a conflicted, unstable, and harmful entity. it also upends the ‘holy’ brother-sister bond, another conventional bollywood trope, and pushes him into a treacherous and openly confrontational relationship. Dinnertime in Kehri Singh’s opulent home is not an occasion for warm conversation. the first such sequence lays bare the latent tensions. Chintu (Ashish Verma), the tycoon’s irresponsible youngest son, puts out a flyer for a gym that Nikki intends to launch. Kehri rejects the proposal. the property, he scornfully declares, will house preet’s office. Nikki swallows his pride and sulks. It’s easy to see why Nikki is such an empty shell, emotionally drained and constantly short-fused. with him around, a minor skirmish on the dance floor at a watering hole can turn into an all-out brawl. Preet steps in to stop him from raining blows on the object of his fury. she gets a bite in return. Also privy to this family’s dark secrets is cop Bhupi Hooda (Aamir Bashir), Kehri Singh’s brother-in-law. a con artist, is called in for a firefighting mission when an unforeseen crisis rocks the family. bhupi’s methods are no less brutal than the ones he is following.watch the trailer here:
gurgaon doesn’t rely on big bang drama for effect. instead, it focuses on the vile ways that greed and mistrust spread poison and cloud judgment. Despite its limited scope, the film takes off and flies smoothly on the strength of the evocative and effective atmosphere created by cinematographer Vivek Shah and sound designer Mohandas PV. The captivating back-and-forth pacing that editor Shan Mohammed brings to the film adds another layer to this intense cinematic experience. Akshay Oberoi brings a controlled intensity to sway the seething young man who feels badly ripped off. Ragini Khanna, who plays the only character in the film who is allowed the occasional smile, exudes charm and confidence.