[Film Review] MONSOON SHOOTOUT (Sydney Film Festival)


The emerging genre of Hindi-noir was brought to Sydney’s shores in the form of Monsoon Shootout, a film directed by Amit Kumar. Monsoon Shootout is a classic hard-boiled, enigmatic pastiche channeling the tempo of crime in Mumbai, slumlords and tough cops. Focusing on the idea of human decision-making, the film centres around a moment in time, where police officer Adi must decide whether or not to shoot the escaping fugitive Shiva, exploring the implications of every possible scenario on his own life three times.

The physical presence of Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shiva powerfully encapsulates the attitude of the film – the illusiveness of truth and the idealism of justice in a corrupt society, and is especially enhanced by his axe-wielding Tarantino-esque violence. Adi’s naivety and idealism is carried well by Vijay Varma. By using the monsoon as a backdrop, and the noir mise-en-scene, Kumar reflects serious issues of law breaking and injustice in the streets of India, a tempestuous inclination of internal breakdown.

As a current Cannes 2013 entrant, Monsoon Shootout, each scenario is re-shot with dazzling slow motion precision, with the formidable cast in each case reinventing their own characters consistent with the plot-twists. Kumar cleverly forces them to adapt, consistently looking at Adi’s reaction to internal corruption, extreme violence and a lack of remorse. With corruption as the primary theme he also innovatively interweaves a moral dilemma, forcing the audience to not objectively look at Mumbai’s seedy underbelly but to look at human nature within this setting.

The dark setting, combined with sharp camera action, which rarely cuts back to the same scene, keeps the film progressive, yet at times is disorienting, especially when violence within the scene is introduced. Even still this film offers more than entertainment but for the viewer to be situated within the action, and included in the protagonist’s, and the criminal’s contemplations.

A formidable entrant in the SFF contest, this film unfortunately didn’t outclass Only God Forgives directed by Belgian born Nicholas Winding-Refn and starring Ryan Gosling, but gave a strong boost to Hindi/crime noir genre.

Directed by Amit Kumar
Starring Vijar Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Neeraj Kabi

Reviewer: Sami Swilksy