Ratings - * * ½
Today’s generation is absolutely unaware about the era of mill workers in the city of Mumbai during the 1980s. Director Mahesh Manjrekar’s Lalbaug Parel (City Of Gold in Hindi) brings to light the history of these workers and the pain they went through. For this, he surely deserves praise. However, the nature of presentation is too much to handle.
The film follows the story of the workers’ struggle against the insensitive mill owners (Sameer Dharmadhikari mostly). Anna (Shashank Shende) hasn’t got his due amount from the mill owners since six months. He lives in abject poverty with his wife (Seema Biswas) and four children, Baba (Ankush Chaudhary), a struggling writer, Mohan (Vinit Kumar), a bank employee, Naru (Karan Patel), a local thug and Manju (Veena Jamkar), who has is head-over-heels for a shopkeeper Jignesh.
Also woven in the story are union heads Rane (Sachin Khedekar), his partner played by Vinay Apte, Speedbreaker (Siddharth Jadhav) and a list other characters including the ones of Satish Kaushik and Kashmera Shah.
Manjrekar has succeeded in portraying the helplessness, tragedy and the everyday life of the workers in a manner which cannot be more realistic. Every minute detail is taken care of brilliantly. In addition, he manages to bring out some realistic and brilliant performances from each and every actor with Biswas, Jadhav, Khedekar, Chaudhary and Patel standing out.
Having said that, the negative points are too much to ignore. Although the film promises to deal with the battle of mill workers versus mill owners, the first half is loaded with too many daily events and encounters of the main characters leaving the main issue behind. The second half does touch the issues but the script suffers for being too lengthy and too emotional. Even after the culmination of the story, the film is still dragged unnecessarily. Most of the times, the film appears to be an underworld saga with shades of Manjrekar’s Vaastav appearing regularly.
However, the major drawback, as stated earlier, is the nature of presentation. The 2 hour 20 odd minutes are loaded with too much of violence. In fact, such high dose of bloodshed and hostility is hardly ever witnessed in any Indian movie. The sub-stories of the characters get a bit too emotional, wild and loud. After witnessing such disturbance, one hardly cares for the characters and the issues.
Despite many plus points, Lalbaug Parel falters for being too brutal, loud and distressing for an average viewer. Watch it only if you are ready to excuse these factors. Because of the sensitive local issue, the film is sure to enjoy very good returns. However, its Hindi version, City Of Gold, (slated to release on April 23) won’t stand a chance at the box-office.