With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, December 02, 2013

ACF 2039: MONSOON SHOOTOUT - a 2013 SAIFF film review

All photos courtesy of Yaffle Films, Sikhya Entertainment Pvt Ltd
Monsoon Shootout
Written and Directed by Amit Kumar
India, 2013, 88 minutes
When: Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Where: SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, NYC
(between 8th and 9th Avenues)
New York Premiere
 In Hindi (with English subtitles)
Buy tickets here

A hit at Cannes and Fantastic Fest, Monsoon Shootout is an exciting police thriller that will open The 10th Annual South Asian International Film Festival tomorrow evening in NYC. The festival will run through Sunday, December 8, 2013.

Adi Kulshreshta (actor Vijay Varma) is a new sub-inspector in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) who is starting his Field Trials in the Crime Branch. In other words, he's a rookie cop going out on his first real assignment. Before leaving for work, his mother reminds him of the three paths in life: the right path, the wrong pah, and the middle path.

Adi Kulshreshta (Vijay Varma) in action in the monsoon rains

Adi is teamed with Inspector Khan (Neeraj Kabi), a veteran cop who'll use any means -- including the extra-legal -- to get the job done. Sometimes assisted by Patil, a policeman who sports a mustache,  they are tasked with bringing down a boss known as the Slum Lord. Huge construction projects are underway in the midst of Mumbai's slums, and the Slum Lord is a master extortionist who has no qualms about resorting to murder if builders refuse to comply with his demands. His main henchman is known as the Axe-Killer because of his weapon of choice. He uses an axe because, unlike a gun, it makes killing intimate and personal. Axe-Killer is sometimes assisted by a man whom the police term Blind Beggar.

As the Monsoon rains fall, Khan and Adi stake out a food vendor. They've been told that Axe-Killer, whose identity is unknown, is to meet the Blind Beggar, whom they have identified. Patil is there also, working literally undercover. A man, his wife and their young boy arrive and go to the food-stand. Blind Beggar arrives on a motorcycle and goes over to the stand where the man offers him a light. Khan is convinced that the man with the lighter must be Axe-Murder, a shootout erupts and Adi runs off in pursuit of the man believed to be Axe-Killer.


Adi catches up to him at a wall and, with his gun drawn, orders him to freeze. Instead Axe-Killer leaps over the wall and escapes. This turns out to be the fulcrum point for various paths that result from what Adi does or does not do, a reflection of the three paths alluded to at the beginning of the film.

I'm not about to give away any further specific descriptions of the film because that would surely spoil it for anyone who will be seeing it at SAIFF or elsewhere. Let's just say that each of the three paths Adi takes has major consequences for him and for some of the other characters, including Anu, a female doctor who knew Adi in college, and the wife and son of the man believed to be Axe-Killer.

If you should go to IMDb for information, please, please, please don't be thrown or dissuaded by the unseemly and unwarranted approval rating of 5.8. My guess is that this low score has to do with the film not meeting many viewers preconceptions of what it would be. It does not have a straightforward, linear narrative with a simple single resolution at the end. As I've indicated, there are three paths, or branches, that the film takes from the confrontation at the wall. This allows for various interpretations as to which one of the three, if any, is actually what happened. Make your decision about whether or not to see it with that in mind.

I hope that many people choose to see Monsoon Shootout. It's a well-made, well-acted and intriguing policier that will fascinate you and no doubt provoke lively post-viewing discussions.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars. Very highly recommended.

About SAIFF:
The South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) is the largest film premiere destination for South Asian/Indian filmmakers in the United States. SAIFF was founded in New York City due to the lack of support for many emerging filmmakers and the overall underrepresentation of Indian cinema in a capital that is recognized by the world as the birthplace of independent filmmaking! The Festival is committed to exhibiting films from South Asia (i.e India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal) and within the Indian Diaspora. With a focus on dynamic, visionary cinema, SAIFF annually creates unprecedented exposure for filmmakers and unparalleled experiences for its attendees. The 10th Annual South Asian International Film Festival will take place from December 3-8, 2013.

Complete information about The 10th Annual 2013 SAIFF here