3 Storeys: Ambitious Efforts Watered Down By Improper Character Development
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Ever heard of the proverb ‘Still waters run deep’? Director Arjun Mukherjee’s 3 Storeys hits quite close to this saying. It has three interwoven stories of characters that live in a chawl built in 1926 in Mumbai. The lives of these middle-class characters appear run-of-the-mill on the outside, but dig any deeper and a plethora of secrets start to spill, uncontrollably.
The first story is centered on an Old Catholic widow, Flora Mendonca who has wanted to sell her small apartment at exorbitant prices for years. As unreasonable as she might be, her years of waiting finally begins to pay-off.
The second story is that of Varsha Angre, who suffers constant domestic abuse. She lives to care for her son and seeks refuge in her daily interactions with a warm neighbor.
The third story is based on a young couple, Malini Mathur and Suhail Ansari who are separated by the patriarchy’s unfair notions. Their families refuse to let them be together owing to religious differences.
These three stories are enveloped in the charm of the lustrous Leela, whose exposing sari and long, dark hair are the subject of discussion amongst the other families in the chawl.
From patriarchy and domestic abuse to casteism and societal pressure, 3 Storeys stuffs its plot with countless issues and secrets, these characters carry with them on a daily basis. The director’s relatable yet mysterious portrayal will win you over, especially in the first tale.
For a debutant director, Arjun Mukherjee shows promise. His effort to bring together an anthology that also possesses the quality to intersect at intervals has to be applauded. In fact, he sets an uninterrupted and balanced rhythm for all three tales as well. But the problem lies in his inability to sustain the interest these stories aim to create. The setting up of plots is perfectly fine, but when it comes to pay off, these tales aren’t adequately immersive.
The first story featuring Renuka Shahane as Flora Mendonca feels like a breath of fresh air. Her portrayal is quirky yet graceful. She eases into Mendonca’s stubborn and charming personality with utmost conviction. Her Konkan accent too is on point. Pulkit Samrat on the other hand, proves to be a disappointment. His physique lacks the rawness his character Vilas, demands. This brings a layer of superficiality to his performance.
The second and third stories fade in comparison to the first one. Their climax in particular lack an element of surprise that the first one effortlessly brings into the picture. Suhail Ansari and Malini Mathur’s tale is quite similar to one of Bejoy Nambiar’s stories in Solo. Chances are it might not appear convincing to most of the masses. But it might serve as a premise for plenty of unintentional comedy.
In its approach, 3 Storeys is quite similar to Mani Ratnam’s Yuva. In most parts, the former is as adequate as the latter. But as far as character development is concerned it terribly falls short. If 3 Storeys had the depth to pull you into its world and immerse you in its happenings, it would’ve been unforgettable. But due to its shortcomings, it fares average. But it does serve as an acceptable and experimental source of entertainment nonetheless.
The star ensemble of the film acts as its backbone. Shahane takes the cake with her original and captivating performance. Her character is easily one of the best in this anthology. As Varsha, Masumeh Makhija too is brilliant. Her subtlety adds layers of intrigue to her character’s personality. As Shankar Varma, Sharman Joshi delivers a memorable performance as well.
Clinton Cerejo’s music and Will Humpris’s cinematography compliment the rhythm of the plot. Just like the other aspects of the film, they fall in line with the director’s vision. But they lack the excitement that comes with innovation in cinema.
On the whole, 3 Storeys isn’t perfect, but it is entertaining. It is ambitious, but it could’ve been so much more had the director tapped into the true potential of the premise. But if you are looking for a different yet satisfying film this week, by all means go for it.