3 Storeys Review

Renuka Shahane Rana as Flory aunty, the feisty Christian lady with a private agenda, steals the show in the film “3 Storeys” with her whacko, truly awe-inspiring performance. (photo provided)

B4U Motion Pictures & Excel Entertainment present Open Air Films’ “3 Stoeys”

Produced by: Priya Sreedharan, Ritesh Sidhwani & Farhan Akhtar

Directed by: Arjun Mukerjee

Written by: Althea Delmas Kaushal & Anvita Dutt

Music: Amjad-Nadeem & Clinton Cerejo

Starring: Sharman Joshi, Richa Chadha, Pulkit Samrat, Masumeh Makhija, Ankit Rathi, Aisha Ahmed, Renuka Shahane Rana, Laksh Singh, Omkar Kulkarni, Tarun Anand, Saunskruti Kher, Dadhi Raj Pandey, Sonal Jha, Himanshu Mallik, Happy Sharma, Alam Khan, K.K. Shukla, Rajeev Saxena, Annapurna, Varun Sharma, Gopal Das, Malhar Goenka and others

Since 2004’s “Darna Mana Hai,” off and on, we have been getting what can be called “ensemble story” films, where there are multiple tracks with diverse characters, which may or may not converge at the climax. The stories can be of any genre from crime and horror to drama, love and, rarely, even comedy, usually of the black variety.

“3 Storeys” intellectually puns on the word by narrating three stories from three storeys (floors) in a Mumbai chawl, an upmarket version where one may have to queue up at sunrise for milk but has running tap water and good construction. The biggest block in the chawl can be priced at 2 million.

However, Flory aunty (Renuka Shahane) puts up her block for sale for FOUR times the price! (Are chawls sold as ownership properties? Now THAT’s a new one! We all thought all Mumbai chawls are owned by landlords!) And a young businessman in pearls from Hyderabad (Pulkit Samrat) actually agrees to buy it.

After the deal, Flory offers him a cup of coffee, and over it, the young man asks about her son, whose framed photograph adorns the wall. And Flory narrates a sordidly tragic story of crime, as she had spoilt the boy from childhood by protecting him whenever he was blamed. And yes, relevant to the story, her husband (Laksh Singh) is a homeopath.

Storey Number…Oops! We mean Story Number Two: Varsha Atre (Masumeh Makhija) is a woman in a bad marriage, working to support her drunkard, unemployed husband (Tarun Atre) and son. When she finally goes to a neighbor (Saunskruti Kher)’s house for tea after umpteen invitations, she gets to realize that she has married Shankar Varma (Sharman Joshi). Shankar and Varsha were in love once, but after Shankar comes home from Dubai, where he has made good now, she realizes that a tragic misunderstanding on her part prevented their union then!

Story Three is of a Hindu girl Malini Mathur (Aisha Ahmed) who loves Suhail Ansari (Ankit Rathi). He is the son of the Muslim shopkeeper Rizwan (Dadhi Raj Pandey), who wants him to marry within their community. The pair elope, are caught and brought back and told the shocking story of why they cannot marry.

In the chawl are a bald policeman (Himanshu Mallik of “Tum Bin” fame, almost unrecognizable without hair) and a sexy widow (Richa Chadha) who lost her husband seven years back, at whom most of the males ogle. She is the narrator of all that happens, and why. How does she know everything? Well, that’s the twist in the tale that ultimately shows that this otherwise promising drama is shakily constructed in a way that the audiences will not take to it.

Debut-making director Arjun Mukerjee shows potential for making realistic drama but overstretches in the final love story to get a fatal disconnect with the audience. Writer Kaushal creates a reasonably realistic ambiance in a chawl, though she is inspired by some old films like “Drishyam” and “Come September”. The format of narration is reasonably well-used until the twist in the end that is intellectual again but lacks value for money quotient for the audience. But Anvita Dutt’s lines are impressive for their simplicity.

The songs are completely dispensable and the technical side basic. But “3 Storeys” is bolstered by some good performances from Sharman Joshi, Masumeh Makhija, the two youngsters in love, Himanshu Mallik, Dadhi Raj Pandey and even Richa Chadha. Tarun Anand is note-perfect as the drunk husband.

But the film, hook, line and sinker, or rather, all three storeys of it, is dominated (and how!) by Renuka Shahane Rana as Flory aunty. As the wigged, middle-aged and feisty Christian lady with a private agenda (the only story here that packs a whopping wallop!), she proves that for a consummate actor, absence from work is no deterrent for a whacko, truly awe-inspiring performance. She gets in this extra half-star to an otherwise strictly average film.

Rating: *** (**1/2 plus 1/2* due to Renuka Shahane!)

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