The Mumbai chawl—over-crowded, impinging on privacy and filled with characters— has long offered a colourful and crackling setting for films. Director Arjun Mukherjee takes the camera right into the cosy tenement and captures a microcosm of city life, with its myriad communities co-existing. 3 Storeys imagines what might actually be the stories of those living behind some of those uniformly designed doors.

Three unconnected stories are bound together by their postal address. The first is the story of a widow looking to sell her flat at an astronomical price. Starring Renuka Shahane as the Goan aunty, this story is in the zone of Roald Dahl, with quirky characters and a twist ending. With this opening, the expectation is that the two segments to follow will be equally playful. They are not.

The second story delves into the past and present of a woman trapped in an abusive marriage until a chance meeting with a lost love finally sets her free. Masumeh Makhija’s earnest performance saves this corny and convenient idea from sliding into the mundane.

The third story (which is, in fact, not the last one—there is also an epilogue) tries hardest and falls flat. A tale of inter-community teen love delivers the weakest punch line and, once again, is held afloat by Aisha Ahmed and Ankit Rathi’s performances.

Pulkit Samrat, Sharman Joshi and Richa Chadda also star in this film about stories that are connected by common spaces. The problem with 3 Storeys is the screenwriting; Althea Kaushal’s three stories don’t match moods or stay on the same beat. The narration saunters along such that even a judicious running time of around 100 minutes feels uncomfortably long. Mukherjee manages to achieve a sense of voyeurism, but once you have seen enough of their lives, you leave the characters behind in their milieu without a backward glance

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