Monday, October 11, 2010

City of Life !

I had heard about this movie. Reena had seen it when I was out of town, and I finally got the chance to see it on my flight this weekend from Dubai to Hong Kong.

An excellent movie. Not only well written, acted and produced, but also bold enough to address some real social issues in Dubai which I would believed to have taboo to address in a movie in this way and be shown in the Emirates.

The movie follows the lives of 3 very different people in Dubai. A cab driver, an Emirates stewardess and a local boy from a prominent family.

The story holds no punches and deals with the real hardships and ruthlessness the labour class has to face with life in Dubai. The "empty" lives the expat professionals sometimes have to face being posted away from home for the sake of a career, and the social paradoxes local families face dealing with their own culture and background in a rapidly modernising and "westernising" city.

Basu is an Indian taxi driver with a talent for acting, singing and dancing along with movie star looks. A nice guy with a big heart, always seems to have a stream of bad luck on his side. Working in Dubai to earn a small wage to send back home to his parents, he dreams for a break in show business, but a lack of attention on his day job puts him on constant trouble with his employer.

Natalia is a young Romanian lady working as an Emirates stewardess. Her job pays a decent salary and gives her the chance to travel the world, but she is not happy and has a hole in her life. She dreams to go back to being a ballet dancer, but doesn't seem to have the drive or courage to make the change in her life. Circumstances occurring with her room mate and a new romantic interest do finally push her to make a move.

Faisal, a young man from a local family (his on screen father bearing a striking resemblance to Sheikh Mohammed), is struggling to grow up and take responsibility in his life.

In this, the most revealing of the tales, the movie addresses the trappings of growing up in Dubai as an Emirati in today's Dubai with tremendous wealth in a protected society and where the youth have little moral pressure to take up morally responsible positions.

It will prove to be an eye opener for foreigners in the country who would typically look at the local population as privileged, with everything they desire falling in their lap. Indeed, all is not what meets the eye.

Faisal's father is an upstanding Emirati citizen and strives for his son to achieve something with his life. His friends, however, with no such pressure, continue to lead him astray.

In this vain, and with refreshing openness, the movie deals with a selection of rich locals drinking, fighting, womanizing and leading aimless lives and the challenges this can cause in the city and with society. It brings a fresh, more sympathetic eye onto a very serious issue.

By raising these issues at all is a great start. Every city and society has issues and room for improvement, and rather than hide from them, the way to deal with them is to bring them into the open and accept that they exist.

Well done Dubai for allowing this movie to be made and shown, and it is a must see for all those living in Dubai. It is as educational and emotional as it is entertaining.

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