Santosh Sivan’s Mumbai gives the impression of having just a handful of people, whose lives keep intersecting at various crossroads. In a city of millions, it’s surprising how these characters' paths cross repeatedly, often coincidentally. Mumbaikar is a remake of Tamil film Maangaram (2017), where disparate stories and characters collide in a multilinear narrative.
Many of the main characters are ‘outsiders’, who come to the big city in pursuit of individual goals. A young man (Hridhu Haroon) arrives in Mumbai with a file full of certificates and hopes of securing a job at a business process outsourcing centre, or a BPO, so that he can start a life with his girlfriend waiting for him back home. An earnest chap, he finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time, compounding his plight with some bad choices.
An older man (Vijay Sethupathi) has grandiose aspirations of becoming an underworld don. But his kindly heart might just get in the way. A family man (Sanjay Mishra) wants to earn enough as a cab driver to take care of his wife and child. These three men find the city challenging them, unexpectedly, even brutally testing their faith and resolve.
Alongside, a small-time gang botches up a kidnapping, a jobless young man (Vikrant Massey) with anger issues is obsessing over a kindly HR executive (Tanya Maniktala), and a corrupt and prejudiced cop (Sachin Khedekar) is about to make all their lives worse. Mistaken identity is a running theme in this adapted screenplay by Himanshu Singh and Amit Joshi S, screenplay, in which kidnapping of the wrong child invites local don Prabal Kant Patil, aka PKP’s (Ranvir Shorey) wrath. This one mistake triggers a chain of events that plays out over a couple of days.
That this OTT release (Jio Cinema) is filmed and directed by award-winning cinematographer and filmmaker Sivan (Halo, The Terrorist) is surprising. Besides Vijay Sethupathi’s on-point performance as a gangster-in-training, the tone, narrative and images are erratic. It’s as if Sethupathi wandered off another film set into this one. Within the limitations of the script, Haroon creates a connection with the viewer as he finds emotional variance in his character.
These Mumbaikers and newcomers to Mumbai exist specifically in a moment in time. Themes of discrimination, especially against migrants, acid attacks, corruption and citizen involvement are peripheral. At times a social comment, at times satire, sometimes slapstick, fleetingly affectionate, Mumbaikar is an ungainly genre mishmash.