Bombay Velvet - Review
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Anurag Kashyap loves killing his characters* in style. His creates violent scenes with as much flair as he creates a Bombay from 40-50 years ago. But, are grandeur in violence and production compelling enough to make it into a memorable film. Yes and no. Bombay Velvet tries to hit you in the gut with its violence but misses because you get distracted by the déjà vu from a Tarantino film. It impresses with style but doesn't leave an impression. It has very interesting characters and a meaty plot but gets contrived. It is quirky but doesn't go all crazy on you, but it is just enough to keep waiting for something bigger to happen – which not necessarily does.
Bombay Velvet starts unfolding characters to introduce them rather than using the usual ploys of voice-over or people who know each other forever but behave, for our benefit, as if they've just met. You actually sense the writers' and director's love for the characters. They build up pretty well too, intriguing you even if not necessarily getting you involved.
Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor), a small-time thug, victim of the partition is aspirational and surprises you with his ruthlessness – you don't really expect a chocolate boy to enjoy a good fight. But, that's how obsessed he is with what he wants – a life goal or a woman – he does what it takes and takes joy from it too. Rosie (Anushka Sharma), a woman oppressed by men all her life wants tender, loving care that she's been deprived of all her life. Meanwhile, she sings and how! Khambatta (Karan Johar) the business tycoon is ruthless in his own way but he won't get his own hands dirty in a hurry. And you have Chiman (Satyadeep Misra) the hero's friend, the alter ego, the audience's representative, the bystander who gapes at it all.
They are all ace performances too. When Ranbir Kapoor seems over-eager, it is Balraj's earnestness coming through; Balraj's hot temper sees its way through the blows Ranbir takes and gives with pleasure. (Satyadeep Misra) as the friend stays in the background as would be expected out of Chiman. Unlike his directorial debut, Karan Johar's acting debut makes you look forward to his next performance.
My appreciation for the surprising steps that some of the leading actresses in Bollywood have taken goes beyond words. Kangna Ranaut last year, Deepika Padukone last week and Anushka Sharma with NH 10 in last quarter. Though her role in Bombay Velvet did have a certain glamor attached to it, it is not misplaced and Anushka Sharma balances it with the restraint in the non-pub scenes. It is indeed as much an applause to the actresses for taking on non-standard roles and performing them with renewed energy, as much as it is a nod to the writers who are creating the characters.
Diverting myself back to the film on hand, a montage of the lead characters at the beginning smoothly transforms into a flow that is rare in Hindi films. Even when the second half hits bumps, the narrative doesn't lose fluidity. A lot of the continuity can be attributed to the charming world of Bombay in the 60s. You cannot miss the music. It is lyrical violence. It is poetic noir.
Yet, many a time it felt that what the writers might have thought of as “cool” didn't quite work out. However, there were a few scenes that worked really well given their context and the word that popped while watching the film was “unique”.
It is a shame then, that while there were these unique bits, they were in bits and pieces. Some parts of the rest of it felt like tributes. Other parts seemed like they wanted to resemble a Hindi film from that era. Especially, the convoluted situations in the last hour or so of the film. In fact, the film seem to have been lengthened to stay in line with films from that time.
Bombay Velvet also attempts political commentary. The partition, the politics behind the partition were the more obvious ones. But the more striking one was the inception of corruption in the country. This is when it all began – the woes that are so deep-rooted in the system now.
I left the theater with a question. I enjoyed the film while watching it, found it slightly long but it didn't test patience at point. I liked the characters, the dialogue, the flow of the narrative, the plot till it gets carried away much like the lead character, Balraj. But, the film doesn't leave a mark that will remind you of what you felt while watching the film, like most good films do, certainly like all Anurag Kashyap films. It doesn't stay with you. My question then is, is it necessary that a film should aspire for more? Should it want to stay with the audience for a while later?
Isn't it good enough that you were entertained for those 2-3 hours? For now, I will go with no. I want my films to be more like Balraj – ambitious.
- meeta, a part of the audience
- Violence: Loads and loads and brutality is implied though not necessarily shown on screen all the time.
- Language: Clean
- Nudity & Sexual content: Prostitution. A lip-to-lip. Some dialogue implies the characters have had sex, etc.
- Concept:A small-time thug's aspirations of making it big in Bombay in the late 60s
- General Look and Feel: Retro, very retro. Good retro, great retro.
Bombay Velvet - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Twitter YouTube Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Fox Star Studios, Phantom Productions
- Producer: Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vikas Bahl, Madhu Mantena
- Director: Anurag Kashyap
- Lead Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma
- Supporting Cast: Manish Chaudhari, Kay Kay Menon, Karan Johar, Siddhartha Basu, Remo Fernandes, Satyadeep Misra, Mukesh Chhabra, Vivaan Shah
- Story: Anurag Kashyap, S.Thanikachalam, Vasan Bala
- Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi
- Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker
- Choreography: Ashley Lobo
- Music Director: Amit Trivedi
- Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
- Costume Designer: Niharika Khan
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 150 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
Bombay Velvet - Trailer
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