3 Storeys movie review: Renuka Shahane and Sharman Joshi shine in uneven drama

3 Storeys movie cast: Richa Chadda, Renuka Shahane, Pulkit Sharma, Sharman Joshi, Masumeh, Sunny Singh, Ankit Rathi, Aisha Ahmad
3 Storeys movie director: Arjun Mukherjee
3 Storeys movie rating: Two and half stars

Life, in all its sorrows and joy, big scales and small notes, stretches where nothing happens, and flurries where everything happens all at once, is nothing short of full-on drama, and this is what ensemble pieces like 3 Storeys draw upon.
3 Storeys is set in a Mumbai chawl, and the time is here and now. We see the inhabitants, who live on different floors (malas, or storeys) and they are the stories: there’s your elderly busybody aunty (Shahane) who has a nicely appointed ‘kholi’ to sell, but is waiting for the right buyer (Sharma), but not in the way you’d think; there’s the abused wife (Masumeh) of a drunken lout, who is suddenly confronted by her lost love (Joshi); there’s the young Muslim lad in love with a pretty Hindu girl, unaware of the dark secret that surrounds them; and a perky voice (Chadda) who is the ‘sutradhaar’, the teller who knits the tale.
Even if not madly original, ensemble pieces can turn out interesting if consistently told. 3 Storeys comes off nice in bits but uneven overall: we are reminded of Roald Dahl and ‘O Henry in some of the inflections, and you can read the twists a mile off, especially in the segment which features the canny old lady and the brash young man with a shared past, and in the other, where two lovers are sundered because of a misunderstanding.
And because life is so messy, you don’t always have to tie up all the loose ends quite so neatly: it’s always more intriguing to let a few hanging. But very few filmmakers like to take this route, because we like our endings neat.
Everyone plays it quite competently, despite the predictable beats. Nice to see Shahane, who aims for naturalness despite some stodginess in the way her part is written. And I always enjoy Sharman Joshi, and wonder why this terrific actor doesn’t get more work in the movies.

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