An online film journal for Indian Cinema
Director Amit Kumar says Monsoon Shootout was inspired by An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, an influential short story by writer Ambrose Pierce. The narrative hook is relatively high concept: a rookie Mumbai police inspector’s shooting encounter with a vicious criminal relives the impact of the moment in three radically different ways. A more clearer cinematic influence is Kieslowski’s 1981 film Blind Chance. This makes for an innovative narrative neo noir genre piece also seizing the chance to explore the inner lives of those who populate this atmospheric Mumbai underworld. Produced by Anurag Kashyap and Asif Kapadia, Kumar’s well paced directorial debut draws on a history of classic Indian police films such as Ardh Satya to flesh out what is a conventional story about the trials and tribulations of a rookie cop fighting for acceptance and integrity. What makes the film brilliantly enjoyable is Kumar’s considered handling of a narrative that defies expectations, disrupting the usual conventions associated with this genre. The sequences that unfold at night are particularly memorable, with the crimson red lighting and endless monsoon rains, producing a resolutely sleazy tone. Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a scene stealing turn as a low life criminal lackey proves yet again that supporting roles often allow the actor to take more risks than the main lead. A film like Monsoon Shootout certainly proves that there is still a lot of mileage left in the Mumbai noir genre, drawing inspiration from the traditions of film noir to give us an ending in which themes of fatalism and doom are played out in tragic circumstances.