Mumbai, 09 Mar 2018 10:13 IST
Though the film has a bizarre ending, the endearing characters and stellar performances by the cast help first time director Arjun Mukerjee’s 3 Storeys survive the tremor.
The word 'storey' is defined as a part of a building comprising all the rooms that are on the same level. Millions of Mumbaikars find home in such storeys, chawls. Living in such close proximity helps build a nice social environment with the residents often looking out for each other. Every storey has its share of stories to tell.
First-time director Arjun Mukerjee's plot navigates stories in his 3-storeyed Mayanagar residence. Penned by Althea Kaushal, of Happy New Year (2014) fame, the film narrates three stories of three residents of Mayanagar.
Flory Mendonca (Renuka Shahane) lives alone after losing both, her son Anton and her husband Dominic, in a matter of weeks. The local real estate dealer, Ramoji, finds it difficult to understand why the old woman is demanding Rs80 lakh for a property that is barely worth Rs20 lakh. Mendonca eventually finds a buyer in Vilas Naik (Pulkit Samrat).
Once madly in love, Varsha (Masumeh Makhija) and Shankar (Sharman Joshi) are separated by destiny. Varsha, now married to another man, is subjected to domestic abuse at the hands of her alcoholic, unemployed husband.
Teen Malini (Aisha Ahmed) is seeing Sohail (Ankit Rathi), son of a stall owner in Mayanagar. Religion becomes a barrier between the couple and they decide to elope, leaving their respective mothers depressed.
3 Storeys is built on the hardships of Flory, Varsha, and Malini’s mother (played by Sonal Jha). But then we also have Richa Chadha, a widow who dons colourful clothes and watches other residents with her roving eye.
Chadha’s character may appear surplus to requirement, but there is more than meets the eye.
A taut script is backed by a neat screenplay. Kaushal and Mukerjee’s principal characters tell simple yet compelling stories.
They appear relatable, purely due to the impressive show put up by the cast, led by the underrated Masumeh Makhija. The girl first made an impression in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool (2004). However, with stalwarts like Pankaj Kapur, Tabu and then a rising talent Irrfan Khan at the helm, Makhija was left to play second fiddle.
3 Storeys marks Makhija’s finest hour. The unheralded actress wins you over with her simplicity. She’s got the gift of the gab, but more importantly, Makhija succeeds in bringing out the emotional depth of her character.
Equally impressive is Tarun Anand, who plays the abusive, chauvinist husband. The abhorrence that the audience feels towards his character is a sign that Anand played his part to the T.
Sharman Joshi has excelled in comic roles. After Rajesh Mapuskar’s Ferrari Ki Sawaari (2012), emotional, intense characters were not considered to be his cup of tea. Here, Joshi leaves you pleasantly surprised with his intensity in 3 Storeys. As opposed to Ferrari Ki Sawaari, Joshi doesn’t let the emotions get the better of him here, chipping in with a restrained yet convincing performance.
You ought to be a stone if you don’t shed a tear at Shankar and Varsha's reunion.
Varsha, Sohail and Malini’s respective mothers share a similar ordeal. They bear the brunt of a patriarchal society. In Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017), Sonal Jha’s character opposed her daughter Leela’s (Aahana Kumra) relationship with a Muslim boy, Arshad (Vikrant Massey).
3 Storeys has a similar story, but the mother's reasons for refusal here will shock you. She does a fine job, but it’s the actress who played the mother of the Muslim boy who leaves you stunned. Here is a poor lady who is so intimidated by her dominant husband that she is too petrified to even bat an eyelid.
Renuka Shahane makes a long due return to Hindi cinema and doesn’t disappoint playing the Konkani Catholic aunty. If not perfect, she makes a sincere attempt at getting the accent right. She aced the look with short grey hair, floral dresses, and a duck gait.
Young Aisha Ahmed and Ankit Rathi perform admirably in their maiden film. They run away to Alibaug, land up at a shady lodge oblivious to the fact that such places are hotbeds for one-night stands, a haven for couples seeking privacy. This aspect of Mumbai has seldom been explored in Hindi cinema.
The only actor who is not quite up to the mark is Pulkit Samrat, who appears to be imitating his mentor Salman Khan.
The cast does a fine job, but it is the unexpected twist in the climax that turns the very foundation on which 3 Storeys is built. Director Mukerjee takes you for an emotional ride and then bursts the bubble. As a reviewer, it is likely to put you in a dilemma.
Is the bizarre twist detrimental for the film?
Perhaps, there may be some who would remove a star from the film's rating. After much deliberation, this reviewer decided against it on two counts.
First, when the smoke clears, you’re left with a sense of reality. Second, films cannot be deemed average for the sincere performances of its cast helps the 3 Storeys survive the tremor.
In the end credits, we hear the song that goes something like, 'Yeh kahani thodi atrangi, paheli anokhi, thodi adhuri, thodi bewakoofi (This tale is a bit weird, a bit puzzling, a little incomplete, a little foolish)'.
What's certain, though, is that Arjun Mukerjee has endearing stories in his 3 Storeys that deserve to be watched.