South Asian International Film Festival 2013: 'Monsoon Shootout'

Photo courtesy of Yaffle Films, Sikhya Entertainment Pvt Ltd

A rookie police officer faces a moral dilemma in the excellent Monsoon Shootout as three possible scenarios stem from his decision at this pivotal moment.

Monsoon Shootout

Director: Amit Kumar
Cast: Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Neeraj Kabi, Geetanjali Thapa

At first glance, Monsoon Shootout recalled The Raid: Redemption with a rookie cop led by a morally questionable commanding officer in a gritty, impoverished setting. But that's about the only real connection as Shootout doesn't burst into extreme and continued bouts of violence. Instead writer-director Amit Kumar's debut film turns into a Run Lola Run-style film in which our protagonist Adi (Vijay Varma) has the opportunity to shoot an alleged axeman or bring him in unharmed. The split-second moral decision and the course of action in this pivotal moment results in three differing scenarios for the rookie in this thrilling film.

The varying outcomes differ enough through their approximately twenty minute courses but they involve the same criminals, cops and other characters that you'll see parallels in the narratives. These circular incidents, including a visit to Adi's love interest, are nice to observe as you get an idea of what a character's true nature is and give the viewer a sense of where things might be progressing in the next scene. That isn't to say the film is entirely predictable whatever the decision made on pulling the trigger.

Those actions and events may not necessarily come as huge surprises but they will glue eyes to the screen. Given that each scenario is rather brief, there are a lot of cuts and a lot of jumps forward in the story, which helps to accelerate the action and hopefully lead to an outcome the viewer will agree, or disagree, with. Within this rapid-fire framework, the characters may perhaps be underdeveloped, but placing archetypical attribute on them helps to resolve these quick developments.

Adi is the noble, novice rookie. His commanding officer is either corrupt or jaded or just plain practical given the political system in India. The two are out to get the slum lord, a powerful behind the scenes figure who uses his henchmen to carry out heinous acts. Lastly, though not the final character, there is the ruthless Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the alleged axeman for the slum lord. The gun Adi holds is critical for the pivotal shootout that ripples across each characters life. Each actor holds his or her own and gives us a believable performance within their confines.

One thing Monsoon Shootout does best is encourage viewers to root for Adi -- even if his CO is more experienced and understands the political system of India better, even if we have to reformulate a plausible backstory for his love interest, even if Shiva wasn't the alleged axeman -- and then to watch it again to see what could have been done differently.

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