The much-awaited collaboration of Fox Star Studios and Vishesh Films, ‘Citylights’, is about a happily married Rajasthani couple who move to Mumbai in search of a better life. Instead, juxtaposed with despair and anguish, they fall prey to the darker side of the city, ‘where no one sleeps hungry’. The movie which marks the coming together of the National Award winning duo, Raj Kumar Rao and Hansal Mehta, is an official remake of the International classic ‘Metro Manila’. It also stars debutant Patralekha, whom Mahesh Bhatt describes as ‘the wonder girl from Shillong’.
Jeet Ganguly has given the music for the film, which has always been one of the strongest features of any product from the Bhatt camp. With some great performances to watch out for, ‘City Lights’ releases on the 30th of May, 2014.
Here’s an exclusive report on the proceedings at the trailer launch of ‘City Lights’ at the ‘Le Meridien, New Delhi on the 2nd of May, 2014.
Thanking the audience for attending the event despite the scorching heat in the capital, Fox Star Studio Chief Vijay Singh started off with describing the studios approach in making films in India, “Our efforts have always been to present something new, special and something that pushes the edge.” Having made films like Jannat2, Raaz3 and Murder3 with the Vishesh Films, he had words of praise for his association with them. Talking of ‘City Lights’, he termed it as a movie which reaches out to the basic human feeling. He mentioned the movie to be special as it reminds you of the importance your family has in your life. He was pleased to have such an extra-ordinary credit role; producer Mahesh Bhatt who needs no introduction and the National Award winners, Hansal Mehta and Rajkumar Rao, who emerge as the soul of the film.
Without much ado Mahesh Bhatt took over form Vijay, to state ‘City Light’ as having the same essence and cinematic value as his 1998 cult-classic Zakhm. He insisted every city to go for this high on emotion flick. Going by him, India is going to see a rural-urban migration on a magnitude that wasn’t seen till now in the history, and the heart of this story relies on the thought, that every man has for his family of how far he could go for them.
“‘City Lights’ is a story of survival, where the audience is going to witness different stories & realities, and experience what a family or a person faces when he or she migrates from a village to a city, I thank Hansal Mehta for giving me a precious gift like ‘City Lights’, because it reminds me of what I was all about. He has touched me with his sincerity and his contribution towards me and my company. I call him a dangerous director because he has shot the scenes in places of Mumbai, where we could not even think of and has captured emotions which aren’t achievable in studios. The actors have put in their soul and that’s the USP of the movie,” he added.
National Award winner Director, Hansal Mehta was obliged on garnering such an appreciation from Mahesh Bhatt. He wasn’t too late in expressing his either, “I must say that I could have never asked for something better, than having Bhatt Sahab as a Mentor. When we started the film, he called me on the first day of the shoot and said ‘be audacious, fearless and follow your heart’. When your producer gives you the license to be free, you start exploring the world of characters with the only potent weapon of honesty, which is sometimes lost due to constrains put in by various producers. This isn’t a film that has been borrowed, rather is a purely Indian film. If not for my actors of such great calibre like Rajkumar and Patralekha, it would certainly have been difficult for me to get the emotions on screen in the exact way which I wanted them to be.
Patralekha, the lovely girl from Shillong, who debuts with ‘City Lights’, was overwhelmed on being given this role by Vishesh Films.“I could not have got a better platform than this. I auditioned a lot in Mumbai prior getting in touch with the casting director, post to which I auditioned couple of times again and my last round was with Maheshji. After auditioning in front of him, I almost had my heart in my mouth. For two days, there was no response and then one fine morning I get a call from him that I’ve got the role. I am lucky I got this role and this is the happiest moment of my life,” she exclaimed with sincerity and innocence.
He further went onto thank Hansal for giving him this role, and highlighted the pros of being an Actor. “You get to learn a lot, you live in the lifestyle of different people, learn various dictions and so on, and that is the fun part of this industry. Else, if you end up doing the one and the same thing all the time, life will get monotonous.”
How suitable is Rajkumar for this role?
Hansal: I don’t know why, but every time I read a script I picture Rajkumar in that role. That’s what happens when you have worked with an actor of Rajkumar’s calibre. When we worked together in ‘Shahid’ for two long years I could not separate him from Shahid Azmi, and same was the response of the audience. He was so phenomenal in Shahid that when I thought of casting him for the role of Deepak I was worried if he could pull it off. But after casting, I cannot separate him with the role of Deepak.
How much do you relate to this character?
Rajkumar: I do relate to him a lot. Like he wasn’t from Mumbai and so am I. Similarly, even I came to Mumbai for a better livelihood and to make my dreams come true.
Has your perspective changed towards the people who migrate to cities from their places?
Rajkumar: After watching the movie in the editing room, I started noticing people around. The movie did change my perception towards these people.
Did you observe people around you, during the making of this movie?
Rajkumar: As our characters were from Rajasthan, we went there for a couple of weeks, to get knack of the local Rajasthani accent. We observed a lot of people, art, and lifestyle and so on. But I could not observe the same people in Mumbai because I couldn’t make out as to what their situations at that point of life were.
Is the story a reality bite or would it also inspire?
Mahesh Bhatt: The movie is inspired from a Fox Star production, called ‘Metro Manila’. Hansal and Rajkumar watched it and we adopted its outline and gave it an Indian touch to form a magical world ‘City Lights’. I think the movie will prepare rural people about the consequences they would probably face when they move into bigger cities, like what has been shown earlier in a movie I directed called Naam (1886). The movie is definitely going to inspire people to open up their hearts for these nameless, invisible creatures around us.
Wrapping it up, the team left with a hearty smile as they were overwhelmed with the response they got from the present audience.
‘City Lights’ is truly a moving story about people we often see around but overlook, as they have no existence in our lives. Hansal Mehta, makes an honest effort to explore the lives of these people, and through the movie, he wants to awaken the humanity in people, living in the cities. The movie starring Rajkumar Rao and Patralekha in lead roles, hits the screens on 30th of May, 2014.
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