After playing around the world, from Cannes to Dubai, Monsoon Shootout came to New York City last week as the opening night feature of the South Asian International Film Festival. The film follows Adi (Vijay Varma), a young cop who is involved in his first real case; the investigation of a series of murders linked to a gangster named Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in the Mumbai slums. Encouraged by his threatening superior (Neeraj Kabi) to shoot first and ask questions later, Adi must make the difficult choice of whether or not to pull the trigger when he has Shiva cornered. The films spurs from this choice, running one by one through the outcomes that could occur from Adi’s decision.
First time director and writer Amit Kumar brings style and substance to this Run Lola Run-esque action movie from India. When I envision an action film from India, the big budget Bollywood action spectacle comes to mind. Monsoon Shootout is a refreshing change of pace, grounded in the urban streets of Mumbai. It is gritty and direct, while utilizing plenty of cop movie tropes to deliver a pretty entertaining 90 minutes. At times, it gets melodramatic, but the theatrical nature only goes to further the film noir elements of the movie.
The story bends over itself into a prism vision of a single decision by a good cop who is being challenged by a corrupt system, but due to the cold, hard fact of simply living in a difficult world. He somehow manages to retrace his own steps by different means, revisiting locations and characters with new results. Watching the protagonist find alternate paths to his love interest in his alternate timelines is one of the highlights. It’s an interesting subtextual commentary on destiny on one hand, on on the other, it’s visually and intellectually satisfying to draw the lines between the different outcomes.
Adi’s confidence increases as the movie goes on, especially once he makes the decision that suits him best. Vijay Varma gives a restrained performance that is quite good. Once the rookie cop finds his footing, you won’t doubt him anymore, and in fact, you’ll find yourself rooting for the character.
Although Monsoon Shootout does not have a feel-good ending by any means, it doesn’t detract from the pleasure you’ll derive from this stylized and clever art-house thriller.