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  Life   More Features  19 May 2019  Powerful and gritty

Powerful and gritty

Published : May 19, 2019, 4:48 am IST
Updated : May 19, 2019, 4:48 am IST

This cat-and-mouse drama about squabbling siblings in a political family, makes for a compelling watch!

Straightaway, City Of Dreams encircles a  cluster  of power-hungry characters whose motives are  never cogent let alone comprehensible.
 Straightaway, City Of Dreams encircles a cluster of power-hungry characters whose motives are never cogent let alone comprehensible.

What starts  off seeming  to be  a takeoff on Mani Ratnam’s  most recent political drama Chekka Chivantha Vaanam turns into an engrossing crackling  cat-and-mouse drama  about a political  empire in Maharashtra where  siblings squabble for power after the patriarch(Atul Kulkarni) is  gunned down.

Straightaway, City Of Dreams encircles a  cluster  of power-hungry characters whose motives are  never cogent let alone comprehensible. There is  always a sense  of  more going on  here than meets  the eye.Writers-directors Nagesh Kukunoor, Rohit Banawalikar peel of layers after layers of subterfuge to reveal a system of governance that  thrives on  corruption and  deception.


Deftly inter-woven, the  plot moves in  mysterious ways embracing characters who  are at  once  cunning and naïve. The  aforementioned  wounded politician’s  daughter Poornima (a very lovely and emotionally  empowered  Priya Bapat) fights  it out with  her out-of-control debauched brother  Ashish (Siddharth  Chandekar, forceful).

The two actors play  off against one another with  controlled  acerbity, bringing out Shakespearean levels of power-greed  as  the plot unfolds  in  a gripping game  of one-upmanship. Priya Bapat is specially  effective, negotiating the  power spaces that her father has vacated with  guarded velocity.


In one sequence  Poornima  Gaekwad  accompanied  by  the family advisor(Jiten Pandya)  meets  a business benefactor friend  of her father who  informs her in very crude words, that he’s  ready  to  be  ravaged in  the missionary  position but won’t be sodomised.

“Aage se ya peeche se, aapka faisla,” the seemingly pert  politician-daughter rejoins. Much to our as well her own shock.

The character  shock themselves with their sudden swerve into sleaze , none  more than Sandeep Kulkarni playing the political family’s money launderer. Playing a placid  family-man with  crippling financial  liabilities (money launderer with  no money: get the  irony)  he cultivates a secret life where he watches  ‘Sunny’(as in Leone) in  Badan Part 4  and befriends  a mysterious  seductress. Kulkarni brings  out the frightening stillness  that defines his character’s existence.


Not one to go down without a  fight  is Ajaz  Khan’s  burnt-out encounter-cop act. He is a  once-powerful man  now forced to look at his pathetic  personal and  professional life straight in the eye. The part  is memorably written. And  Ajaz Khan makes  the  best of, though he could have  mumbled his  lines  more coherently. The  problem with being Marlon Brando is, we don’t know what he’s saying.

The series has some striking threads  of plotting, fluttering across the  episodes  with inviting assuredness. My  favourite is the loan agent Gautam (wonderfully  played  by Vishwas Kini)  and his unlikely telephonic friendship with the brutalized sex worker who calls herself Katrina (Amrita Bagchi). There  is potential in this  friendship for a  full-fledged feature film.


City Of Dreams focuses not  so much on the city  of Mumbai as its  ambitious power-hungry characters  whose yearnings spill into a bloodbath .This is  a well-written  finely-performed  web series  with  significant recall-value.

The writing is bold and  effective never afraid to call out  its character’s flaws, no  matter how embarrassing. At  one point when the two siblings squabble  over their father’s political throne,the brother tells his sister, “I am not willing to be Manmohan Singh to your Sonia Gandhi.” Politics never seemed  more interesting. And farcical.

Tags: priya bapat, manmohan singh