"Sunrise," the portrait of a grief-shattered Mumbai cop, takes place almost entirely at night, on streets drenched in monsoon rains. Fantasy and reality bleed into each other, the lurid cityscape inseparable from anguish in a story that revolves around the horror of child trafficking.
Less compelling as a thriller than as a trip through a mind tormented by loss, the film depends on a minimum of dialogue, with extended sequences of wordless action. Director Partho Sen-Gupta, a former production designer, uses intense atmospherics in place of narrative nuance. His fluent visual language eventually grows more literal and less potent, but it goes a long way toward building a nightmare world.
As Inspector Joshi, the excellent Adil Hussain ("Life of Pi") is a haunted man, barely coexisting with his colleagues as they take reports of missing children and process crime scenes. There's little comfort at home, where his wife (Tannishtha Chatterjee) clings to the delusion that their young daughter was never kidnapped. Desperate to right unspeakable wrongs, Joshi searches poverty-ravaged streets, the metronome of his windshield wipers marking time. A blinking light on his dashboard, in the shape of the deity Ganesha, flashes glimmers of hope.
The drama moves between Joshi's desperate search and the ordeals of doe-eyed teen Komal (Gulnaaz Ansari) and tween Naina (Esha Amlani), enslaved in a prostitution ring. Their worlds cross — and all Joshi's cases blur — when his restless searching takes him to Paradise, a garish fever dream of a nightclub.
Despite the overdone stylistics in the film's final third, Sen-Gupta's dark dreamscape distills notions of vulnerability with gritty power. In an unforgettable moment at a blood-spattered murder scene, children's voices rise in singsong as they play patty-cake.
In Marathi with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills