Multiple stories seem to be the trend of the year in Bollywood. It's a technique that's old to Hollywood (Traffic, Pulp Fiction etc.) but new to Bollywood (Salaam-E-Ishq, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.). Life...in a Metro, the latest offering from Anurag Basu (Murder, Gangster), is a realistic look at the lives of a select few characters who could be anybody in any city around the world. In the past months the film has been riding a wave of high expectations due to multiple factors. Shilpa Shetty's Big Brother win, Anurag Basu's success with his last two films and most importantly, a talented cast featuring some of the best names in the business (both old and new).
At the center of the film lies the story of three call center co-workers. Rahul (Sharman Joshi...downplayed for a change) is secretly infatuated with his co-worker Neha (Kangana Ranaut...similarly underplayed). In exchange for promotion recommendationsnarrators, Rahul rents out his apartment to co-workers who are carrying out affairs of their own. Neha has climbed the ladder of success pretty quickly, thanks to hard work and an affair with her boss Ranjeet (Kay Kay Menon...so amazing, you hate his guts). Ranjeet has begun to fall for Neha, despite the fact that he is married.
Ranjeet's wife Shikha (Shilpa Shetty in a career defining role) is bored housewife. Despite being a better student in college than Ranjeet, she decided to stay home after marriage to take care of the house and their daughter who is now 6 years old. Ranjeet has lost himself and his family chasing his dreams of money. Shikha meets Akash (Shiney Ahuja) a struggling theatre artist who is coming off a divorce. Their friendship begins to blossom into something more, threatening to tear down Shikha's life in the process.
The final (and certainly most enjoyable) story is of Shruti (scene stealer, Kokona Sen Sharma), Shikha's 30 year old virgin sister. She wants to settle down, and currently she has two options. The first is her Radio Mirchi RJ, Wishy K (Gautam Kapoor), whom she has a big crush on. The other is Debu (hands down favourite, Irfaan Khan) a guy she met through a matrimonial website. She's not exactly crazy about him.
On the other hand, the performances are what holds the film together. I wasn't even thinking about Irfaan Khan and Kokona Sen Sharma's story going into the film, but it's the best one. It's really the heart of the film because it's more light as opposed to the seriousness of the other two story tracks. Irfaan and Kokona are so good it seems like they may be competing to steal scenes. Irfaan just manages to win, why don't we see him in more roles like this. He is really having fun and to be paired opposite such a talented actress really does help. Shilpa Shetty turns in the performance of her career. After Phir Milenge and Dhadkan she hits another home run and tops all her previous work in Bollywood. It's amazing to see her grow into such a serious and sensitive actress, not to mention that she is still hotter than any of the 'actresses' that came after her. Hopefully she'll no longer be typecast into roles where she only has two scenes and a song. Kay Kay Menon plays his despicable character so well you can't help but hate him. Is this the same guy who was so loveable in Honeymoon Travels? In his short but extremely versatile career, he never stops surprising.
Sadly Shiney Ahuja and Kangana Ranaut don't leave the impact they should. The pair was excellent in Basu's Gangster, but here they are just good (maybe it has something to do with them NOT being cast opposite each other). Shiney suffers from an underwritten character, he needed more to work with. He does his best with his scenes, but he is capable of much better. Kangana, unfortunately, will never be able to live up to her debut year. Her performances in Gangster and Woh Lamhe were so accomplished that expectations from her are too high to meet. In Metro she does a good job at down playing her character. It's a performance with a lot of restraint and she looks lovely as usual, but she needs to work on her dialogue diction ,especially in English. Like Shiney, it's not a bad performance but we all know Kangana can do much more. Sharmaan Joshi is refreshing in his role cause he's not hamming it up. Playing a serious character for once really suits him and shows that this guy can be versatile. It's not the best role of the bunch but it stands out cause he goes against his image. Gautaam Kapoor and Manoj Pahwa give adequate support.
If there is one thing that everyone will love about this film it's a mini story involving an older couple played by Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali. I won't say much about it except that it's heart warming and tear jerking at the same time. Dharmendra shows that despite his age, he can still be that romantic guy that our mothers and grand mothers fell in love with. Everything from his expressions to dialogue delivery is so genuine you get the feeling that he is this character. Nafisa Ali's beauty is timeless, but her acting is just ok. In a film where everyone's world seems to be falling apart, this story makes you believe that love can overcome all obstacles. The story also offers some of the films most touching scenes. It's a nice little foot note by Anurag Basu.