Bombay Velvet - Review

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV (?) - Unless you are keen on soaking in the ambiance created, then a trip to the theater will be worth it.
quick review:

The lyrical noir and violence are enjoyable while they last. Unfortunately, not beyond that though. Before long, the plot starts getting convoluted.

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Wogma Review

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.

*Yes, I was reminded of George R R Martin, writer of the book/TV show, Game of Thrones too.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • 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.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 3
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Bombay Velvet - Movie Details

Bombay Velvet - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (34)

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Anuj:

Good intriguing trailer. For the first time since Raajneeti am I actually looking forward to a Ranbir Kapoor starrer. Hopefully Anurag Kashyap gets back to his days of SATYA and BLACK FRIDAY soon enough!

Raj D:

'Bombay Velvet''s colossal disaster has one unintentional purpose:
It'll differentiate an independent good film critic from a pseudo lousy back-scratching 'middle-of-the-road' critic!

Next time if anyone wants to find the calibre of a critic, read that critic's review of Bombay Velvet.
You'll know which Queen/King was/is walking without clothes around in the town till now!

ANuP:

Everybody knows Kashyap has a limited audience. But the good thing was that he stayed honest to his audience in past . But with this trying to gain some extra audience he may upset his existing fans.
It didnt even felt like it has been directed by him.
no twists , no humour(inspite not being a serious film) , no uniqueness. Just the technical departments have done there job. Its visually beautiful but thats not enough.
He should have made the same kind of movie he used to make with a big star (something like badlapur with Varun dhawan) , instead of what he has taken an overused plot , giving evaluation of Mumbai as a background(no detailing as compared to what GOW has shown) doing nothing new to it. Its just an above average lengthy film. And these are the words of AK's fan.

Abhishek Dwivedi:

I have been a regular visitor of your page from the day I read your review of Nishabd. Finally, I was relieved, someone else appreciated the film.

Why I am commenting now? To say that giving Amit Trivedi 3/5 for this music sounds out of tune, if not cacophonous. Guess it's pretty subjective, the taste, but we forget that sometime, don't we? Anyway, the best judge of music is time. We have to wait.

Yet to watch the movie. Kashyap has a fundamental problem - he seeks inspiration not from his life but from art gallaries. And he makes his self-image by owning others' great work merely by talking about it to those who know or care less. And as long as he does that, he will remain a better commentator/critic and a fanboy than a filmmaker.

Fan:

One of the rare positive reviews amongst a plethora of scathing reviews.

Anuj:

The review is as pathetic, illogical, bogus & laughably ridiculous as the movie itself. I'm not surprised since it comes from the self proclaimed fan-girl of the poker faced mediocrity called Ranbir Kapoor (whose fan base is almost non existent now). The movie is dull, boring and an absolute wannabe noir piece of art that falls flat on its bum. Sample this- [Comment partially deleted because it tries to give a part of the movie away.] I'm sure politicians in this nation are smart enough to reverse such a laughable attempt and have this work against the blackmailer himself. Another one, [Comment partially deleted because it tries to give a part of the movie away.] Lmao...Mr. Anurag Kashyap, please get back to basics and revisit your own films like Satya, Black Friday and Gow before your next before u become the next RGV. Mr Ranbir Kapoor, please start acting in multi starrers where you got a popular face to save your a$$ and deliver you a much needed hit since you are already on your way to being the next Abhishek Bachchan. And finally Mrs Kabra, please watch a film closely with your eyes wide open before your next review, even if it involves the supremely tough and unfortunate task of you criticizing a movie of your all time favorite Ranbir Kapoor. BOMBAY VELVET is a 100 cr box office DISASTER. A Disaster so shocking, even Kites, Veer and Mangal Pandey and Paheli appear to be holding their own against this. RIP Ranbir Kapoor the "self proclaimed media made star". Welcome to the club of Rahul & Abhishek :P

Gokul:

Damn!!!!!Had expected this one to be a good crime noir.Looks like everyone outright hated this film.I guess that setlles that Mad Max is the one to go for this weekend.Will catch this one on DVD for sure though.

Fan:

The nail in the coffin comes from Raj D, hammer supplied by Anup, and blow struck by Anuj.

What could one have expected from an arrogant overhyped king of parallel cinema meeting the overhyped king (or something else) of candy coated Archies' film?

dirtroad:

I had to keep asking myself if this was really happening and a movie has been released like this. Its very clear from the rush of the first half that they have possibly shot a movie about 4 hours long and having no chance in the world to launch another BV-2 a la GOW they were hurriedly cutting the scenes to bring down the length. That also explains the presence of a more senior editor. The first half made no sense at all....can one believe that even the 'mother''s face was not shown? what sort of screenplay is this?? One can understand why this film was getting edited for such a long time. And wonder of wonders..even after an astronomical budget the sets ended up looking like sets....the explosion was laughable. And it did not look like a 100 Cr movie at all. The rumors are to vicious to put in here but frankly the club, the road, the buildings all looked film sets only !!! The club did not even look alive or fun !!! I am so disappointed that possibly i will go watch Piku the 3rd time or even Gabbar just to cleanse my eyes !!! It was a horrible experience sitting through whatever passed on the screen in the name of a film, All other great turkeys before this at least tried in their own way to tell a story..this doesn't even have that.

meetu:

@Anup yeah I know. I can imagine the disappointment.

@Abhishek Other than "Behroopiya" I found the music very repetitive. Which works for the film but to listen to independently, didn't find myself putting the album on loop.

@Fan Well, I didn't think it was a positive review. :D At the same time I didn't hate the film either. I think it is an ok watch for when you its on TV/DVD without having to spend 1000 bucks on a theater outing. :)

asuph:

For once, I see a review of BV that's not review of AK, or the budget of the film, or whatever. Thumbs up for that alone. Mostly agree with you (except that it did stay with me, although given it's AK film, I was expecting a bit more from it).

3/5 for music director kind surprised me too. And then read your comment that the music works for the film, but not the kind of album you'd listen to. But do the songs/music need to stand on their own? In the context of the film, it is absolutely working, IMO. It's almost the driving force of the movie. Didn't feel a single song was out of place or dragging. The background score is fabulous. So given that it's a music for a film, Trivedi has more than excelled, if that's possible. I'd give him 5/5 without a second-thought.

meetu:

@asuph Thank you! I work hard on viewing the film as a stand-alone film. So, rating this film had to be as per "What if this wasn't an AK film?" Which is why I also didn't bring up music of Aamir and Dev D.

I'm always in a fix about rating the music. I ultimately do how the music felt overall. So, you shouldn't be surprised one day if you see a 5/5 for a film's music which had nothing to do with how it sounds stand alone but goes great with the film. :D Even the movie reviews are like that - how a film made me feel.

Fan:

@Meetu : looking up your rating table I see that 'catch on dvd for sure' is in 4th position out of 7. So yes it's not that positive. Maybe it's the 'catch for sure' wording that gives the impression that one should not miss the film.

Anuj:

No point hiding comments for revealing the plot for this pile of garbage. This movie is such a stinker, there's hardly anyone queuing up to watch it and hence it really doesn't matter even if i blurt out the entire plot out here. 10% occupancy in week 1. BV is a record breaking box office DISASTER of magnamopous proportions surpassing the likes of Kites, Drona, Happy Ending, Paheli etc. Its Indian cinema's biggest flop since RGV Ki Aag in 2007. First Roy and now this, 'Besharam' Ranbir has indeed come a long way as an actor. So have his fan-women who are now surpassing even the likes of Raja Sen and Mihir Fadnavis in giving false and misleading reviews!

Anuj:

@Fan : "overhyped king (or something else) of candy coated Archies' film?" ~ Karan or Ranbir? :P

Fan:

@Anuj: First Besharam, then Roy, and now this. But I think he will bounce back, he does have the potential.

A bit like Priyanka Chopra who delivered 4 duds in a row in a year and closed the year with Fashion winning all critical acclaim. The 4 duds (not in the order of release) were Drona, God Tussi Great Ho, Chamku, Love Story 2050.

Anuj:

@Fan : Its not quite the same for actors and actresses in Bollywood. 80% of the times, the Priyanka's, Deepika's and Katrina's of b-town play supporting glam doll roles and hence a few flops here and there does not quite impact their star status as they always have multiple insignificant glam dolls roles opposite the Khans, Roshan's or Kumar's lined up. Of course they too have to prove their mettle when the likes of Piku, Mary Kom, Queen, Kahaani etc come around, but they are few and far between. As for the crowd pulling actors, every film of theirs is under scrutiny and their popularity is as good as their last film. No wonder a Hrithik's star status was devastated when he gave Kites and Guzaarish in the same year before he crawled his way back with ZNMD, Agneepath and Krrish-3. Ditto for Srk with the underperformance of MNIK, Ra.1, Don-2 etc before CE came along. And mind you, HR and Srk are superstars and mega stars i'm talking about. Ranbir is yet to prove himself even as a regular crowd puller. the only substantial huge grosser he's had in his 7 year career is YJHD and there too I would be tempted to give half the credit to Padukone, considering that she's been on a roll for over 2 years now and completely overshadowed even an Srk in CE and Ranveer in Ram-Leela and has now delivered big time in Piku. Ranbir's other major hit APKGK is again with great help from another superstar actress Katrina who was having a dream run during the late 2000's. Barfi is more of an ROI word of mouth, urban multiplex hit where the credit mainly goes to the content and director/screenplay writer than a display of Ranbir's star power (something on the lines of Farhan's BMB). Raajneeti was a huge multistarrer and all of Ranbir's other films including the over-rated one's like Wake Up Sid, Rockstar, Rocket Singh have either been Below Average or Flops or Disasters (Saawariya, Besharam, Roy, BV). Agreed that he's the most popular in "his generation" of actors but that mainly because the rest like Varun Dhawan, Ranver Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Imran Khan etc are so lousy and worthless that they cannot even be taken seriously. The only real competitor Ranbir has in his generation is Shahid who I believe is a far superior actor to Ranbir but unfortunately, Shahid's questionable choice of films over the years has been both baffling and shocking which leaves Ranbir running a one horse race (yet huffing and puffing)

Raj D.:

Before the interest and debate on Bombay Velvet dries out and everyone moves on,
I would like to give my half a cent of thought:

What movie critics - who gave average or above average ratings to Bombay Velvet - did was:

It is like selecting someone as life-partner in today's times who is technically highly rated on this checklist:

-Known, Wealthy, qualification, status, looks, family, cleanliness etc.

But ONE who doesn't / can't give you LOVE & make you feel happy!

Audience while watching a movie don't see other things, but just experience the feeling of being happy and satisfied, a feeling of joy hard to describe.

Surely it is not all technicalities of movie making that critics laud. Technicalities only contribute to less than five percent in audience's mind.

Critic need to be savvy like that audience, and not keen on shown how well they understand the technicality of movie making.
In the end, who cares about technicalities if the movie is a crap - its like the "Oxford Comma' song.. snobbish, elitist, ondescending!

Fan:

@Raj D: well said. Critics and reviewers look into the technical nitty gritty that an average film goer does not even understand or realise. It's the overall content, story and execution that is appealing. In short entertainment.

One of the best sentences that would sum up what critics and reviewers and all wannabe intelligent sounding fellows try to say on such films (or rather such directors' films) is like a surgeon who says "the operation is successful but the patient is dead". Operation is successful because he followed every medical procedure to the letter and the cuts made were the most precise ever by any surgeon and the stitches thereafter were the minimalist and most esthetic - but who cared for the patient?

Raj:

Well said FAN!

What would the critic / reviewer of that operation write about it?

"Classic operation that family members didn't understand anything about!?"

Gokul:

@Fan @Raj I think a review is nothing but just an opinion of a person about a film.Nothing more or less.They never call themselves intellectuals or consider people who like commercial films beneath them.One of the greatest critics of all time,Roger Ebert hated David Fincher's Fight Club but liked his Se7en.While both of the films are extremely good,over the years,Fight Club has become a cult class among youngsters worldover and it's dialogues on every young man's mind.It just shows that even the greatest film critic can only give a 'subjective'view of a film and can never give an objective view like'I hated this film but you may like it'.

Anup:

@Fan @Raj Then again its the Choice of a person who wants to follow a reviewer or not.. Its there job , and they are doing it , nobody is forcing anybody to read his/her reviews.. Ironically in this same page everybody writing had read the above review and still criticizing the job.. If you don't even like to read reviews then what the hell are you doing on this page.. Don't say that you are just here to reply on the comments below the review.
Reviewers will say what they want to , what they think , what they feel about a movue , its their personal thought , you can disagree them but cant criticize the job..

Raj:

Dear all,

I am one of the earliest followers of WOGMA about 6-8 years back when it started and I like Meetu's review. I visit here because I value the critic's thoughts and reviews about movies. Just because I do not engage actively does not mean I don't read all your comments and debates.

And if I have to share a point or two, I think everyone should allow that.

Meetu provides that liberal platform for people to voice their opinion without curtailing their freedom of expression except in worst cases of using abuse.

In case of Bombay Velvet, I think not a single person of the film industry criticized the movie, such hypocrites! And all reviewers who gave half hearted average or above average rating ranted about technicalities and acting, forgetting that technicalities of making movie occupies only 5% of audience mind except those like us who see other aspects also while watching movies. I understand no reviewer is perfect, and is /will always remain subjective. My point is: "Good reviewer should like a general feel good about the movie as an audience feels. Good movie should touch your heart. Not to say that 100 crore plus movies are always good. Most of them are terrible. But good movies are good and bad movies are bad. A good critic should be able to grow and evolve to understand and feel that part of movie watching experience.

Though technically good, Bombay Velvet was a bad movie.

Fan:

2Gokul, 2Anup: I do not agree to your escapist / defensive / evasive arguments.

In any industry, a reviewer's job is not to say his or her preference. But instead to rate the product on its MERITS.

A scientific reviewer has to review and evaluate based on merit, not what he liked.

A software reviewer has to review software based on quality of the software and not based on what his / her preference.

Read up any definition on any reliable source of a reviewer and you will find that the output has to be an objective merit based analysis.

That does not mean that reviewers could get it right 100% of the time. But instead of accepting that we got it wrong - hiding behind curtains of it is my point of view and I don't care for others' liking - is not very reviewer like. Every reviewer who hides behind such subjective statements is just a wannabe and not a professional. In that sence, how much ever differences on certain points that I might have with @Anuj, he is more of a professional reviewer than most of the reviewers of Hindi films.

Anup:

Raj- thats the thing..we cant expect the reviewer to match his/her thinking with the majority of the audience..if you will take a look again then you can see that there are some comments who agrees with review. That means there are some audience present who may have liked the movie.

Anup:

Fan- how can a reviewer who doesnt like a film will forcefully right good about it just because he think it may be liked by the mass audience or vice versa..

Anuj:

@Gokul : A reviewer is not merely hired to write his thoughts and opinions on a movie with a little help from over the top phrases straight out of a Shakespere'an dictionary. Else any Tom, Dick or Harry writing reviews and thoughts on blogs, twitter, imdb etc would be classified as a reviewer. A professional reviewer is one whose supposed to analyze the merits and demerits of a film from the point of view of a the viewer and the "target audience". But instead, most of these dumb reviewers who try their level best to be smartasses aand rip apart a movie (Raja Sen, Mihir Fadnavis, B Rangan, Masand and many more) start analyzing cock and bull technicalities and camerawork instead of focusing on the essential aspects like the script, content and performances. There is no point reviewing a Dabangg wearing the shades of a ZNMD and vice versa. This is something that most of these dimwitted critics have failed to understand. And of course, writing shit about a popular product is the easiest way to attract attention for these scoundrels, most of whom are failed film-makers and script writers themselves (as we saw with completely senseless and out of context reviews for films like Krrish-3, Dhoom-3, Singham-2 and Holiday).

Gokul:

@Anuj But nowadays isn't every Tom,dick and Harry a critic???FFS even KRK is a critic!!!!!I can't see how anyone can keep his personal views aside and watch a movie thinking how others will like it.Even I don't like the films you mentioned and if asked to write a review,won't be able to write one good reason to recommend them.As far as popular films are concerned,everyone hates a film that is deliberately dumbed down to appeal the Lowest common denominator.And that happens worldover.Literally every critic alive has thrashed the Transformers series.Nobody hates a movie that can entertain without making the audiences look like buffoons e.g:3 idiots,YJHD,Guardians of the Galaxy etc.

Fan:

"I can't see how anyone can keep his personal views aside and watch a movie thinking how others will like"

@Gokul : it's natural that you and me can't see that - we are not professional reviewers.

For someone who has made it his/her profession i expect that person to be objectively analysing the hit and shit to see the factors that made or broke the film. And use the findings of this constant analysis to review new films. And it is important to constantly analyse the films as the tastes change. That is a professional reviewer.

Anuj:

"everyone hates a film that is deliberately dumbed down to appeal the Lowest common denominator" ~ everyone? really? Is that why all the mentioned films were loved by the audiences to such an extent that they ran to packed houses for weeks and weeks together? I'm sorry, likes and dislikes vary from individual to individual and fortunately (or unfortunately) there are a lot more viewers who's rather watch a Dhoom film or a Singham film than a Dedh Ishqiya or a Finding Fanny (including me).

Gokul:

@Anuj By everyone I meant all the critics,and as far as box office earnings go,Transformers even after all that bashing from critics makes truckloads of money.I don't think you can force a critic to like a film because it earned money at the box office.

Anuj:

"I don't think you can force a critic to like a film because it earned money at the box office." ~ same way neither can u or any Raja Sen of this world term a viewer "a moron" or "low denominator" just because he likes a Holiday/Dabangg or Singham. Unfortunately, 90% of these armchair critics and gold class cappichino audiences (the Dibakar Bannerjee/Anurag Kashyap [comment deleted: abusive language + personal attack]) fail to understand or realize this.

meetu:

@Fan Fair point! I really struggle with the in-betweens.

But no, however professional a reviewer is, he is first a viewer and has an opinion. In fact, I think letting go of one's opinion of a film to assess how others' might like it is a disservice. What you are asking of the reviewer is to change his taste. Now, I don't even know how to respond to that.

@Gokul @Anup Exactly! (Re: job of a reviewer)

@Raj Thank you for your patronage! :D
I don't think anyone (critic or not, reviewer or not) can claim to say that a film is universally, in absolute terms good or bad.

@Anuj Do reviewers really say that their taste is superior to others? That'd be crazy and doesn't make sense at all. Are you sure it is not an inference made by the readers?

TimELiebe:

We watched this tonight, Meeta - and I got to say, your review hit the nail on the head. I usually am not a Ranbir Kapoor fan, but here he did a superb job with Johnny Balraj, holding his own with the Great Gangster Actors. Anushka Sharma is never less than really good - but even for her, this was a big step up to a truly great performance. (Did she do her own singing? If so, that's even more impressive!) The rest of the cast did an equally great job, even if I recognized very few of them. And the period setting was nearly spot-on, and we all loved seeing it.

Unfortunately - the story isn't as good as the actors or the setting. Until the back half where it all came apart in a collection of filmi contrivances that the first half of the movie successfully kidded, it was a series of individually good scenes that didn't hold together in a coherent whole. Maybe if we'd known a bit more about Indian politics of the 1950s and 1960s it would have made a bit more sense, but it felt like "Scene", "Scene", and "Scene" rather than a cohesive story to us. It felt like the American film about the CIA Robert DeNiro directed, The Good Shepherd, where you had a lot of great acting and great individual scenes - but no through-line, really.

Ultimately, we agree with your conclusion - like Johnny, this film needs some ambition!

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