Verdict - An interesting concept that doesn't rise above average.
Three Storeys is actually three stories set on three floors of a chawl. The lives of people living in a common space are inextricably linked to each other and the movie makes use of this to weave together these three stories in a kind of braid that has a lot of loose strands flying about but still manages to hold till the end.
The first story is about an old Christian lady who wants to sell her home for an exorbitant amount, the second one is about a woman caught in an abusive marriage and the third is the love story of two young neighbours. Overarching the whole narrative is a glamourous and enigmatic widow whose story is told without words.
Each story is short and complete in itself. The first one about the old Catholic lady is perhaps the weakest one of the three and it works well as a first choice to get you into the swing of the movie. The stories pick up in intensity after that ending with the romance which is the most interesting one of the lot. There is a twist in the end which amuses and leaves you with a sense of satisfaction that you wouldn’t have got otherwise.
The movie is simple and made in a style that may remind you of Sai Paranjape or Hrishikesh Mukherjee. It is unhurried, devoid of glamour and tries to enter the lives of people living in the chawl. It does succeed to a certain extent though somehow except for the love story, the other two don’t really succeed in making you feel very strongly for the characters. There is a certain flatness to the movie that makes it all seem very mundane. Maybe there isn’t enough humour in it, there are barely 3 very subtle jokes and that makes it a bit of a plod. The songs are great and provide some relief.
Maybe, the acting has something to do with it. If you look at it, they are pretty decent performances. Renuka Shahane as the Catholic woman is picture perfect in her hairstyle and her frock and round figure. Her accent is also spot on but somehow, she puts you off. Perhaps we are too used to seeing her in a sari or a more desi look, but in spite of everything being perfect, I found her grating and flat. Masumeh Makhja as the abused wife has a tortured haunted look but failed to evoke my sympathy. Even with her, everything is right- the frightened eyes, the frail figure, the tight smile but there is a cardboard like quality to her performance. The two people who look fresh and passionate are the young lovers played by Aisha Ahmed and Ankit Rathi. They have great chemistry and their innocence makes your heart go out to them. Richa Chadha as the sexy widow lives it up. Pulkit Samrat hams it up and Sharman Joshi smiles his way through. The actors playing Ganpat the policeman and the estate agent were really good.
Three storeys is different from the fare we usually see and for that it may be worth a watch. I wasn’t bored by the movie, but I wasn’t wowed by it either. Small lives can contain great passions and to unlock these needs something extra. This movie doesn’t have that quality to it that will leave you feeling you have witnessed big events in seemingly ordinary lives but the last story and the two young actors Aisha Ahmed and Ankit Rathi in it make it worth your while.