Not a colourful kaleidoscope
The famous chawls of Mumbai are slowly vanishing from the city’s landscape. So Arjun Mukherjee’s portmanteau film, 3 Storeys, evokes a touch of nostalgia for a way of life that involved whole communities living in close proximity, and becoming like family to one another.
The three stories, narrated by a female voice revealed at the end, are woven around the chawl called Maya Nagar. They are unconnected, even though various characters living there saunter through all of them. The first — most interesting and most unconvincing too — involves a well-dressed Vishal Naik (Pulkit Samrat) willing to pay four times the price for a room in the chawl to the crabby Flory Mendonca (Renuka Shahane — artificially aged and padded). As they make small talk over coffee after the deal is signed, the mystery of the overpriced room is revealed, and there is a just desserts kind of twist in the tale.
The other two stories are prosaic by comparison. One has unhappy, battered wife Varsha (Masumeh Makhija) and her broken heart; Shankar, the man she loved (Sharman Joshi), asked her to wait for a year and never showed up. In the age of mobile phones, this contrived yarn about a tragic misunderstanding does not quite work.
In the third, a Muslim boy Sohail (Ankit Rathi) elopes with a Hindu girl, Malini (Aisha Ahmed), only to discover the shocking reason why their parents oppose their romance. In the background, is brightly-clad, siren (Richa Chadha) and her silent admirer, a burly cop, Ganpat (Himanshu Malik).
The cast is efficient, the film has a bearable running time, but it is not consistently engaging. It’s set in a chawl just so that the narrator can look into the lives of the characters, since the somewhat open style of architecture encourages snooping; but the quaint Mumbai institution ought to have played a greater part in the narrative. Think Jaagte Raho, Piya Ka Ghar and Katha, among others.