There's a scene in CITYLIGHTS in which an inebriated Deepak (Rajkummar Rao) returns home late in the night and demands his wife Rakhi (Patralekha) to dance. This is followed by emotional exchanges and they eventually end up consoling each other. It's easily one of the better scenes from the film. The movie comprises of quite a few such poignant scenes but somewhere falls short in totality.
Without wasting much time director Hansal Mehta, gets on with the proceedings. Deepak lives in a small village in Rajasthan with his wife Rakhi and daughter. He has a loan to repay and is unable to do so. With the hope of a better life and future, he takes the big leap and migrates to the city of dreams - Mumbai, along with his family. One would think his woes would cease but he's in for a rude shock. On his very first day in the city, he's robbed of all his money with the promise of a rented home. With nowhere to go, he's forced to stay with his family in an under construction building. His fight for survival is what ensues. CHECK OUT: Citylights - Songs Lyrics
An official remake of the British film METRO MANILA, CITYLIGHTS is inconsistent. It starts as a drama but eventually becomes more of a thriller. And in the process, loses its innocence and charm. In portions (mainly in the second half), it also seems contrived and incomprehensible. Some of the songs are good but they break the narrative's rhythm.
However, the film is not entirely unwatchable. The first half, though a bit slow-paced, is impressive and you are slowly drawn towards the misfortunes of the central characters. It moves you and you do feel for them.
The film is elevated to a great extent thanks to its lead pair. Rajkummar Rao delivers yet another strong performance. He gets into the skin of the character perfectly. Debutante Patralekha is excellent. She surely has a bright future ahead. Manav Kaul, who plays Vishnu, is remarkable. CHECK OUT: Thumbs up for CITYLIGHTS music album!
CITYLIGHTS shows promise but is let down by an inconsistent script. At best, you can watch it for Rajkummar Rao and Patralekha's outstanding performances.