Director: Amit Kumar

Cast: Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Neeraj Kabi, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sreejita De

A rain soaked Mumbai night. A rookie cop in a dim alley. A ruthless killer. In a split second the cop must decide whether to kill, arrest or hesitate long enough to let the man escape. Every decision has a different outcome but a few things remain constant – the rain that drenches everything and the corruption that invariably tarnishes every ideal.

Debutant director Amit Kumar presents a twisty Mumbai noir that manages to be both philosophical and horrifically bloody. The acting is solid – Vijay Varma embodies the newbie who slowly comes to understand the brutal compromises his job requires. Neeraj Kabi as his crime branch boss effectively portrays the cynicism of the force.  There’s also the terrific kid – Farhan Mohammad Hanif Shaikh – whose eyes communicate his singular tragedy. Tannishtha Chatterjee is his hapless motherand of course Nawazuddin Siddiqui grounds the action as the frightening, unhinged killer Shiva.

The screenplay, also written by Kumar, offers three outcomes for the same scenario. It’s a clever idea that plays out with the suspense intact even though you effectively see the same story three times. DOP Rajeev Ravi creates a pulsating sense of the Mumbai underbelly. And yet a sense of ‘been there, done that’ hangs over Monsoon Shootout. The scenario might be new but the set-up and visuals we’ve seen before – the mean streets of Mumbai, killers, cops, slumlords, brothels, blood.

Monsoon Shootout was made five years ago – it premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2013. What was startling then seems less so now.  I think the gap between making and release has especially taken the wind out of Nawazuddin’s performance, which seems like a warm-up act for his much superior rendition of an unhinged killer in Raman Raghav 2.0. Incidentally Anurag Kashyap who made that film is a co-producer on Monsoon Shootout.

But if you can look past the déjà vu, Monsoon Shootout offers enough to chew on.

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