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Sankat City: Love in Underwar Sunday, 12 July, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood, Graphics, Movies, Mumbai.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A truncated version of  the review was published on PFC, which is blessed by a comment from Anurag Kashyap.

This is the original poster, with the original release date. the movie finally released on 10th July 09.

I watched Sankat City at the premier show on 8th July. The brief account of my experience, accompanied by few poor quality celebrity pictures ( i.e. poor quality is of the pictures) can be read here.

What I did not mention there, is that I was sitting beside Aamir Bashir (who played the other cop with Jimmy Shergil in A Wednesday) and Anurag Kashyap few seats away on the same row. Anupam Kher stood on the aisle and started clapping when the movie started.

I wanted my family to see it, so I went for a second viewing. I was disappointed to find out the movie was not running at Fame or Cinemax near our place. Only PVR ( Oberoi Mall, Goregaon) had a single show at 10 30 pm at night and the newly built Braodway (Borivali) had 11 30 Pm had At Movietime Multiplex. At The Hub, Goregaon, seats were only available at the first and second row from the screen! I was happy that the house is full, but my happiness was short-lived when I learnt that the screen # 7 has only 6 rows ! Out of 42 odd seats only 2 were empty when the show started. The film was screened on a digital print through UFO movies, the quality of which was poorer than PVR.

Sankat City is a black comedy based on idiosyncratic charters of the crime underbelly of a thronging megapolis, directed by Pankaj Advani.  Quoting the Director’s own words “Sankat City is a wild roller coaster romp through the underbelly of a teeming metropolis, featuring an assortment of zany characters – a carthief, a conwoman, gangster, godman, film producer, builder, actor, his duplicate, mechanic, prostitute, chauffeur, hitman, cabbie etc; desperate men and women shadowboxing with the vagaries of chance and fate, whose madcap antics result in their lives getting inextricably entwined with each other, leading to madness and mayhem.” [ Source Link]

As I consider myself smarter than other reviewers, I will not waste typing characters to explain the plot. Please refer the Bubble Diagram below to get an idea of the same (note: I am an Architect and an Architect always believes in visual communication than anything else, the more complicated it is, the better). A note of caution to the sharp and observant readers- the diagram reveals plot spoilers. Decipher at your own risk.

Sankat City bubble diagram

The motley cast is as follows –

1. Gogi Kukreja (Manoj Pahwa) – as producer director of B grade potboilers and owner of GAI (Gogi Arts International). Manoj Pahwa has been remarkable funny in Naya Office Office, as the samosa eating babu of the BMC office.

2. Lingam – Gogi’s Manager Sanjay Mishra (Those who see Naya Office Office, he plays the paan chewing peon)

3. Fillip Fattu (Hemant Pandey) Faujdaar’s chauffeur and lover of Gulbadan, as prostitute at a shady ‘La La Lodge’. ( He acts in Naya Office Office too)

4. Faujdaar– The central character, hub of all plots, an ex- gangster and loan shark, who also owns a nightclub named Jhooom (with an extra O ), enacted by Anupam Kher. He recalls the character of matchless inspector Giridhar from Mukul Anand’s Hum.

5. Guru – Kay Kay Menon, a smalltime car thief and conman in dire straits. Loves fish as his children and keeps plenty of them in his kholi.

6. Mona (Rimi Sen)-  an impish Bengali conwoman and seductress.

7. Ganpat – (Dilip Prabhawalkar) owner of a dilapidated garage and Guru’s uncle.

8. Sikandar Khan (Chunky Pandey) – plays a double role, that of the flop B grade film actor and Sheshaiyya, his Hyderabadi duplicate,

9. Suleman Supari (Rahul Dev) plays a cold blooded professional hitman with a sniper rifle.

10. Pawan Pachisia (Yashpal Sharma) – a builder suffering from defaulted loans, dissatisfied libido, acidity and diarrhea.

11. Swamiji (Virendra Saxena)- A beer guzzling, homosexual, non vegetarian Godman and spiritual guru of Faujdaar.

12. Gulbadan (Sunita Rajwar)– Cheap dhandewali at La La lodge and Fillip’s girlfriend.

13. Lovely (Jehangir Khan) Faujdaar’s jat sidekick.

14. Sardarji Gurpal Singh the Taxiwalla looking for his long lost brother through the locket.

15. Sharafat (Shrivallabh Vyas) – Dealer of stolen car and well wisher of Guru and Ganpat.

The Forced Farce of Clichés

As you must gave figured now, the characters bump into each other, crosses each others path and confronts each other with a twist in the tale at every scene. The movie moves fast with all incidences supported by logic and continuity. This is Guy Ritchie stuff with a complete desi flavour. This is a movie built on movie clichés. People leave their car keys on the car, brothers don the same locket till they meet each other, bags get exchanged, people are conned at a jiffy, people lose and gain their yaardasht with accidents and death is a loud and hilarious celebration – all for entertainment.

But Sankat City is not just a film-farce piggy back ride formulae . It showcases the inhabitant’s subtle and surreal dreams and despairs represented magnificently through chewing gums, bubble gums, fishes and garbage. Love for fishes are so powerful that Guru dreams of a mermaid, sitting on a mountain of garbage he pokes the moon bubblegum and darkness sets in. A downtrodden driver gives supari for his boss, to reclaim his love for a dhandewali. Sankat City captures the subterranean flow of love and life amidst filth and dirt, underneath the jazzy surface of a metro. It’s zany yet logical, it’s black but sensual.

Mind you, Sankat City is like rough and unpolished Shahbad stone comedy than a fake Italian marble (Cash, Golmaal Returns, Kambaqt Ishq and the likes). So it’s not brittle and slick but hard, bold and multipurpose.

The film is shot in 16 mm film instead of 35 mm which creates a grainy picture quality adding grittiness to the already rough visual journey. The entire movie was shot in 30 days flat, in various locations from shady nightclubs, dingy bars, hospital, dilapidated garage, one room kholi and garbage dumpyard. The sets are absolutely convincingly real- especially the garage. The typical Mumbai essence is retained through precise detailing- the fare of Best bus to the amount of fine to be paid to retreive towed away vehicles.

L2R-Gubadan, Sikandar, Guru, Pachisia, Mona, Lovely

Humour and Performance
The humour of the movie varies from slapstick to tounge-in-cheek and at places simply side spilltingly hilarious, all you need to pick up the gems from the numerous antics of the characters, at the right moment. Manoj Pahwa and Yashpal Sharma enacts an excellent partnership to deliver some brilliantly funny moment. I especially loved the hospital sequence where Gogi describes the condition of the ‘body’ of Sikandar Khan over phone, in front of his family members. Real dark humour. Kay Kay appears in a complete different avatar from what we have seen him doing. At places his shots/ dialouges are stretched a bit long. Coupled with ostentatious Rimi the duo delivers some fine moments. Rimi uses pure Bengali expletives from humble goru to the grade of shuorer bachcha and other phrases which is a bonus for viewers who understands the language. Unfortunately those can’t be translated without sacrificing the fun. But the show stealing performance is from Anupam Kher, who is a treat to watch in every scene he appears on screen. Watch out for the dance number with a southie dynamite- can only be done by Anupam Kher. Chunkey Pande was louder than required (in all sense till his end) as Sikander and was grotesquely comic as Sheshaiyya. Like he used the term- kirkiri of a performance, whatever it means. All other supporting actors are notable for their respective roles, but Jehangir Khan needs a special mention as Lovely the heavy handed sidekick. A brilliant character portrayal with perfect jat lingo and looks.

God is in the Details
There are humongous detailing on the film which adds to the humour quotient. Some of my observations
• A poster of Gone in 60 seconds at Guru’s home.
• The printed Bermudas of Faujdaar.
• The printed shirts of Fillip Fattu.
• The Jimmy Hendrix get-up of Guru.
• Use of bubble gum to convey feelings.
• Deliberate usage of beaten to death cliché’s.
• Ganpat’s memory loss antics and the ‘Main kaun chhe mujhe khabar ba thi’ lullaby.
• The pose of Guruji in the huge frame in Faujdaar’s office
• Gogi’s female secretary’s body language (reminded me of a girl seen in a B film long ago)
• King of the garbage land (reminded me the ganglord of car junkyard in Barb Wire)

The film does stumble and jump at places at the story telling/ editing front, and it’s difficult to keep track of the fast happenings at certain places, but the characters and the humour make it up so Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.The bgm is jarringly loud except for that sarararara part for the softer scenes with Rimi. The jazz number in the bar and the choreography is trendy (in similar treatment of No Smoking and Twilight Players of Dev D). The fast camera pans over mumbai skyline were a bit painful to eyes in the UFO print version.

The film has a U/A rating and clean to take children along. The couple of sexual innuendos are subtle and there’s no skin show, except for the Swamiji’s bath scene with Fillip.

Enjoy this underbelly dance with Sankat City. Go watch it with family.


1. whatsinaname - Sunday, 12 July, 2009

How cool is that diagram! Gosh!
But you are right on one account. Good movies can never be commercially successful. I wonder where its showing up around my place.
Seems like a watchable movie esp the details you mentioned 🙂
~uh~: In India the audience prefer jazzy, polished mindless story packaged in biceps, miniskirts and cleavage popping necklines with few glitzy guess appearances. Naturally, a super-complicated but completely logical storyline, where each incident in the script has a contribution to the screenplay, but devoid of the glamour is a different taste altogether.
Not sure if its running anywhere near your part of the city.

2. Ava - Monday, 13 July, 2009

Wo, this is so detailed, it can be submitted for a thesis.

Am dying to see the movie..
~uh~: Why are you dying ? A wig will make you look younger too :p :p

3. Lynn - Tuesday, 14 July, 2009

this is the best yet ~uh~..and that diagram is hilarious and very impressive at the same time…you are quite an interesting person indeed. i enoyed this post.
~uh~: I am amazed you found it hilarious in spite of many terms relevant to India, in fact to Mumbai to be precise. e.g-
Kholi- Small one room apartment.
Supari- Contract for killing
dhandewali- hooker
Jat- North Indian community known for their brute force
Please ask in case you do not understand any part of my articles. Your feedback would help me improve my ‘global’ acceptance.

Lynn - Wednesday, 15 July, 2009

actually, it wasnt so much the diagram was hilarious, i just think it funny and genius that you went to so much effort for us! you’re right so much goes over my head and i should ask more questions, i am genuinely curious about your culture and i’m trying to take what i can from your words. looking forward to the next post. yes, i agree with spike, your writing is eloquent, very enjoyable!
~uh~: I took the diagram as a challenge. If the filmmaker can conceive that complexity, i can bloody well represent it graphically 😀
Thanks Lynn

4. Spike - Tuesday, 14 July, 2009

Will watch it soon! Thanks for the eloquent review n the recco!
~uh~: You will love this one. Snatch, Crank, Smoking Aces remixed in a desi pack 🙂

5. surfryder - Wednesday, 15 July, 2009

he he architectural view this is 🙂 though the diagram was a bit tough for my comprehending capability, the textual waves are really like breath-taking! the sad part, u know, is that SAnkat City clearly lacks in aggressive campaigning? they shud fire the marketing team for not cashing in the positive buzz. its not easy to have Mr Ideology [:)] courting the movie w/o a paid deal 🙂

PS: “… blessed by AK”??? gosh that dude gave us “No Smoking”!!! 🙂
~uh~: Have you seen the movie. I am sure after first viewing people will come back to my diagram to verify it 😉
I know, it’s release has been limited with minimal and odd show timings. I think the Baer guys are being too Miser towards this film. Something to do with low budget i guess. lol to Mr. Idealogy, yeah 3 star from him is big.
Yeah, but that dude made Gulaal, Dev D and Paanch too. Btw, I like No Smoking. Shocked/ amused ?

6. Sankat City:Premiere to Premier Padmini « AEIOU ¿ ® - Wednesday, 15 July, 2009

[…] won’t discuss the movie here, because it deserves a separate dedicated review [posted now]. After the show ended I shook hands with Kay Kay Menon, Manoj Pahwa (remember the […]

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