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‘Monsoon Shootout’ film review: One moment and several endings in a clever morality game

Amit Kumar’s debut feature stars Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Neeraj Kabi.

Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout provides a kaleidoscopic view of morality through a simple device: the same event is viewed many times over, with different histories and outcomes, each one telling us something new about the characters.

Some elements are common in the cold and efficient Mumbai-set movie: a businessman is shot to bits; rookie policeman Adi (Vijay Varma) aims a loaded gun on the possible killer Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) during a downpour; Adi’s girlfriend Anu (Geetanjali Thapa) waits for him in a church; a young boy seethes with rage at his father’s death; a wife grieves.

Each reset of the clock locks Adi and Shiva in a confrontation, suggesting that this battle between the primal forces of good and evil is timeless and will never stop. The same lines of dialogue ricochet through the different set-ups, acquiring different meaning each time.

Amit Kumar’s heavily delayed debut isn’t merely a tribute to Akira Kurosawa’s seminal Rashomon (1950), a meditation on subjectivity and the impossibility of an absolute truth through the trial of a possible murderer and rapist. Kumar, who made the acclaimed short The Bypass (2003) is also playing with the numerous possibilities offered by screenwriting. What if the middle portion were to be moved a few notches up? What if Shiva were to be a victim of a mistaken identity? What if Adi’s boss Khan (Neeraj Kabi) wasn’t corrupt and compromised but as world-weary and pragmatic?

Monsoon Shootout.

The fabled Mumbai rains patter away throughout the lever changing, resulting in vividly lit and lensed images (the cinematography is by Rajeev Ravi) and allowing each of the narrative tracks to be metaphorically washed away with every new shift. Mumbai emerges as a hard-bitten character in this classic hardboiled story – a city filled with opportunists, punters, hustlers, and a few pure souls. The most angelic heart in the crime-and-redemption saga belongs to Geetanjali Thapa’s Anu, who is the only one untouched by the corruption that seethes around her.

As a writing exercise, Monsoon Shootout is tricksy fun, with each of the different tracks allowing the actors to hit different levels of performance. Vijay Varma is a convincing greenhorn, his ruddy face and keen eyes conveying his hunger to do the right thing, whatever it is. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is characteristically sinister, and Sreejita De turns out a lovely performance as a low-life prostitute who plays a key role in rewriting the course of events.

Amidst the numerous what-ifs, there is one constant: Adi is pure at heart, and merely wants to do his job and follow in the footsteps of his late policeman father. For all its metaness, Monsoon Shootout turns out to be a pleasingly old-fashioned crime drama about police officers trying to fit into a broken system and criminals trying to make a living on the margins.

The bigger and more abstract idea – morality changes depending on the point of view – gets a bit lost in the efforts taken to ensure that each of the tracks is separate from one another as well as coherence. Yet, the movie works perfectly as a neo-noir thriller set in a city where nothing goes according to plan. One moment has several scenarios in Monsoon Shootout, but the outcome – smart writing and direction – remains the same throughout.

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It’s the new year and it’s already time to plan your next holiday

Here are some great destinations for you to consider.

Vacation planning can get serious and strategic. Some people swear by the save and splurge approach that allows for one mini getaway and one dream holiday in a year. Others use the solo to family tactic and distribute their budget across solo trips, couple getaways and family holidays. Regardless of what strategy you implement to plan your trip, the holiday list is a handy tool for eager travellers. After having extensively studied the 2018 holiday list, here’s what we recommend:

March: 10 days of literature, art and culture in Toronto

For those you have pledged to read more or have more artistic experiences in 2018, Toronto offers the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomising vending machine for old books. You can find the Biblio-Mat, paper artefacts, rare books and more at The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookseller. If you can tear yourself away from this eclectic bookstore, head over to The Public Library in Toronto for the Merril Collection of over 72000 items of science fiction, fantasy magic realism and graphic novels. With your bag full of books, grab a coffee at Room 2046 – a café cum store cum studio that celebrates all things whimsical and creative. Next, experience art while cycling across the 80km Pan Am Path. Built for walking, running, cycling and wheeling, the Pan Am Path is a recreational pathway that offers a green, scenic and river views along with art projects sprinkled throughout the route. You can opt for a guided tour of the path or wander aimlessly for serendipitous discoveries.

Nothing beats camping to ruminate over all those new ideas collected over the past few days. Make way to Killarney Provincial Park for 2-3 days for some quiet time amongst lakes and hills. You can grab a canoe, go hiking or get back to nature, but don’t forget to bring a tent.

If you use the long-weekend of 2nd March to extend your trip, you get to experience the Toronto Light Festival as a dazzling bonus.

June: 10 days of culinary treats, happy feet and a million laughs in Chicago

Famous for creating the deep-dish pizza and improv comedy, Chicago promises to banish that mid-year lull. Get tickets for The Second City’s Legendary Laughs at The UP-Comedy Club - the company that gave us the legendary Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Key & Peele. All that laughter can sure work up an appetite, one that can be satiated with Lou Malnati’s classic deep-dish pizza. For dessert, head over to the Ferrara Original Bakery for mouth-watering treats.

Chicago in June is pleasant and warm enough to explore the outdoors and what better way to soak in the sunshine, than by having a picnic at the Maggie Daley Park. Picnic groves, wall climbing, mini golf, roller blading – the park offers a plethora of activities for individuals as well as families.

If you use the long weekend of 15th June, you can extend your trip to go for Country LakeShake – Chicago’s country music festival featuring Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.

August: 7 days in London for Europe’s biggest street festival

Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been celebrating London’s Caribbean communities with dancing, masquerade and music ranging from reggae to salsa. Watch London burst into colours and sparkle at the Notting Hill Carnival. Home to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens Museum, London is best experienced by wandering through its tiny streets. Chance encounters with bookstores such as Foyles and Housemans, soaking in historic sights while enjoying breakfast at Arthur’s Café or Blackbird Bakery, rummaging the stalls at Broadway market or Camden Market – you can do so much in London while doing nothing at all.

The Museum of Brand, Packaging and Advertising can send you reminiscing about those old ads, while the Clowns Gallery Museum can give you an insight in clown-culture. If you’d rather not roam aimlessly, book a street-art tour run by Alternative London or a Jack the Ripper Tour.

October: 10 days of an out-of-body experience in Vegas

About 16 km south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, lies a visual spectacle. Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation by Ugo Rondinone, stands far away from the wild vibe that people expect in Las Vegas and instead offers a sense of wonder. Imagine seven pillars of huge, neon boulders, stacked up against one another stretched towards the sky. There’s a lot more where that came from, in Las Vegas. Captivating colour at the permanent James Turrell exhibit in Louis Vuitton, outdoor adventures at the Bootleg Canyon and vintage shopping at Patina Décor offer experiences that are not usually associated with Vegas. For that quintessential Vegas show, go for Shannon McBeath: Absinthe for some circus-style entertainment. If you put the holiday list to use, you can make it for the risefestival – think thousands of lanterns floating in the sky, right above you.

It’s time to get on with the vacation planning for the new year. So, pin up the holiday list, look up deals on hotels and flights and start booking. Save money by taking advantage of the British Airways Holiday Sale. With up to 25% off on flight, the offer is available to book until 31st January 2018 for travel up to 31st December in economy and premium economy and up to 31st August for business class. For great fares to great destinations, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.