No it’s not about floors (storeys) this anthology of 3 different ‘kathas’ (stories) by Debutant director Arjun Mukerjee tries to be something more than it requires to be and as a result after the partial hook it turns into an overwritten and predictive chukh (mistake), leaving our dilbegging for more.
Set in a Mumbai chawl, Arjun Mukerjee’s chawl may be not the friendly and extended family types seen in Sai Paranjpye’s classic KATHA (1983) featuring Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval. Writer Althea Kaushal (NOOR, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and LOVE GAME previous) sets it near the iconic Phoenix Mills. The mill is used in a story in these 3 STOREYS (and as a relief it has nothing to do with all those controversies regarding the city’s iconic textile manufacturing company). Althea Kaushal’s characters are not mundane and they are not struggling for a better life and having those cliché demands. Their innocent and common looking faces have an uncommon story in their past and that’s the beauty of this film but it’s primarily in the thought and characterization of a couple of characters and not seen in the entire film. Like those bed time stories which can be good, bad or ugly, 3 STROYES shares the lives of residents of Mayanagar and how they intersect and clash in unexpected ways. Let’s take the storeys.. I mean stories one by one
Story 1 - An old widow Aunty Florie (Renuka Shahane) wants to sell her house at an exorbitant price. She finally finds a buyer in Pulkit Samrat, the deal is done and they share a coffee. But things are not as good as it seems, while chatting with Aunty Florie, the buyer (Pulkit Samrat) finds some dark secrets hidden inside the erstwhile calm, caring and loving Aunty Florie and the world of the buyer is completely shaken and he is in a state of shock. This one is the best and meticulously developed episode that engulfs the viewer in its atmosphere which changes like a chameleon – quirky, funny and dark.
Unfortunately, the director ends up in giving his best in the very first story itself. It seems the episode of Aunty Florie must have been haunting in the minds of the writer and director so they gave it a proper justice. The second story is pretty mundane. Varsha (Masumeh Makhija) struggling in a failed marriage and at mercy of an alcoholic and abusive husband one day suddenly meets her lost love Shankar (Sharman Joshi) as luck could have it; Shankar is the husband of Varsha’s neighbor played by Saunskruti Kher. This one is plain routine, predictable and stretched.
The third one is tale of forbidden love --- where a Hindu girl Malini (Alisha) and a Muslim boy Sohail (Ankit) fall for each other but things take a disastrous turn. This one is forced, overwritten and undesirably sensational with a predictable twist.
The only thing which is consistent in Arjun Mukerjee’s anthological debut is his eternal zest to shake the audience with a blow in the end. He succeeds in the first episode and fails in the other two. Further, the helmer makes an attempt to patch up with a mischievously flirty subplot of a romance between a policeman and young widow played by Richa Chadda, but it ends as a failed gimmick.
From the ensemble cast, Renuka Shahane’s top notch act as Aunty Florie is the movie’s biggest achievement after the first episode. Richa Chadda has her moments. Pulkit is decent. Sharman Joshi is fine. Masumeh Makhija is strictly okay. Alisha and Ankit fail to impress
Technically sound with appropriate production values, the movie is decently shot by Will Humphris while editing by Arindam Ghatak is fine. Music is functional.
Arjun Mukerjee’s narration as the film progresses goes from ups and downs and it fails to maintain the momentum. He has the flair and to make a debut with an anthology is not easy. The first episode of 3 STOREYS introduced a new director with a difference. We hope Arjun encounters a more steady script in his next which can enhance his qualities.
Indian cinema has not quite often explored the anthological genre but there are interesting additions like LSD (LOVE, SEX AUR DHOKHA), BOMBAY TALKIES, MUMBAI CUTTING, I AM, DUS KAHANIYAAN, The DARNA series, and VEDAM, KERALA CAFÉ from south are those that had made an impact. 3 STOREYS just adds to the list.
In the end, the writer-director make an attempt to explain that the traits of human shown in the film are actually the creative genius of the writer who can give a new shape of character to the same face. This mentality of judging the audience’s intelligence at their will and fancy by filmmakers is harmful. The intelligence of the audience should be respected and if a different storey oops story has been attempted then let the audience feel the difference, you don’t need to tell them.