Vijay Varma as Adi. Click on the 'Play' button above to watch the trailer for Monsoon Shootout.
June 12, 2013
(Republished July 24, 2013)
Once, twice, three times a disappointment, Amit Kumar's Monsoon Shootout offers us three variations on the same cataclysmic event in the life of a rookie homicide detective. Officer Adi (Vijay Varma) corners Indian gangster Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in a back-alley at the end of a foot-race through the rain, and must decide between firing his gun and letting let him escape (or something in between). Writer-director Kumar, on the other hand, hedges his bets, and shows what would transpire if each and every option available to him were enacted. The shocking revelation: very similar things would have happened each time! I'll give you a moment to compose yourself.
Monsoon Shootout has one good trick up its sleeve, but the novelty of being taken back to the picture's watershed moment wears off quickly, and the initial surprise is smothered to death by the sea of clichés surrounding it. The movie is comprised almost entirely of lazy, predictable conventions that went out of fashion with The Frug and polio. Kumar's gimmick, as a result, only inspires frustration, because we know we'll soon be taken to another, slightly different but equally hackneyed scenario. Frankly, that one episode of Community with seven alternate timelines was more thrilling.
Siddiqui is impressive as Shiva, the ambiguous, axe-wielding enforcer for the shirtless slum lord that rules the city. Varma, on the other hand, is burdened with a lot of moral hand-wringing, constantly evaluating whether or not he's on the right path. It's hard to know if Kumar is suggesting that too much ethical consideration is worse than inaction, or simply that hindsight is a hell of a thing. Adi's mother warns him that working in the corrupt police department means he'll have to often choose between "the right path, the wrong path, and the middle path." When the film comes to a close, I'm not sure which path taken was which. Perhaps that's the point. If so, I missed it. I was too busy attempting to think of a pun-tastic alternate title based around one of the films Monsoon Shootout so happily takes its cues from: Training Day. (I settled on Raining Day. You know, because it's Adi's first day on the job, and it's set in the rain, and if I have to explain it any further it's really just going to suck the fun out of it.)
Monsoon Shootout plays the Melbourne International Film Festival July 27 and August 8, 2013.