Based on Sean Ellis' acclaimed Metro Manila, Citylights is one of the Darkest films I have seen in recent times. The film tells the story of a migrant from Rajasthan , Deepak ( Rajkumar Rao) who loses his business and is in debt, decides to come to Mumbai with his wife, Rakhi (Patralekha ) and little daughter in search of a job and a brighter future. He comes to Mumbai depending on his friend Omkar to be his support in his initial days, but never finds him once he reaches here. In despair, Deepak searches for a house to stay with his family, but instead gets tricked of whatever little money he has. Circumstances forces the family to take shelter in an under construction building, while Deepak keeps searching for a job, Rakhi is forced to find work as a Bar Girl to fend off the daily expenses. Deepak finally finds a job as a security officer with an armoured security firm, which ferries safe boxes for the Ultra Rich. Everything looks to be getting settled on the surface, but is everything as it seems to be.
Rajkumar Rao is fantastic in this film as a simple migrant who just wants a good life for his family. You can really connect to him , you can feel his innocence. Patralekha as the wife who really wants to help her husband in his quest is a fine counterbalance. Performances from both the lead actors are just amazing. In addition Manav Kaul as Vishnu Sir, Deepak’s mentor in this big city delivers a power packed performance as well.
Cinematography is brilliant. Shots of Deepak and his family sleeping in a dingy under construction 3BHK flat, Deepak looking towards the vast expanse of the ocean in despair, Shots of the Doves flying around, a fallen bicycle all are powerfully canned.
The editing of Citilights is crisp and smooth, you may not even find one frame that drags. The first half went so smoothly that I didn’t even feel that one hour went. Felt more like 20 minutes. All in all a wonderful film, worth a watch. However, if you have watched Metro Manila , don’t expect this to be as brilliant.