Friday 18 December 2015

Bombay Velvet review

"Fiat chalaane wale ko Mercedes chalaane doge, toh thok hi dega"


"Is it really as bad as you have heard?" Yes. "But you have heard of some Locarno film festival where it was much appreciated"- Right. Then what's the truth? The truth is an irony. And it is an irony that has sunk quite a few films in the past, the most recent being Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. What is this irony? It's the fascination of the director in getting the setting right and in doing so losing the plot line altogether.

The very first frames of the movie tell you about the skill that Anurag Kashyap possesses as a director. If you pay attention, you will soon realize that this film is not about Ranbir Kapoor, nor about Anushka and not at all about Mumbai. It's about Kashyap- the Director. He pays tribute to Scorsese and wishes he could make a film like him some day. He aspires to touch the flamboyance of 'Scarface', the viciousness of 'The Roaring Twenties' and the gritty, realistic shades of 'White Heat'. But he sees that the time is lost. And so, he recreates it, puts all his energies into getting all those little tiny details and decorates each frame like his most wonderful of dreams. And then strikes calamity. He can't see it at first but we do and by the time he realizes it, it's all too late. We see that Bombay Velvet isn't really a film but an idiosyncrasy in his head and as such, the plot is either too convoluted for him to try to explain or it is downright flimsy.

'Johnny' Balraj (Ranbir) is a gangster thug who wants to become a 'BigShot'. He has a love interest in Rosie (Anushka) and the film is about his journey towards realizing his dream. There is another motif too whereby Bombay itself is becoming a bigshot and we see parallels between how the gangster world influences both of these transitions. But something is wrong. Things are foggy or rather muddy as they play on. There is just no coherence between the plot line and the way characters play out their parts. You are, at multiple times, left baffled as to what is happening and you want the person sitting next to you to explain what the rush is all about. But even he/she has no idea. You feel that you will have to google about the Bombay history but you don't and quit. It's not your fault really and accidents happen by mistake.

If there is a lesson you can take from Bombay Velvet, it's how not to make a film. It's a lesson for Kashyap and the new 'artistic' directors about what actually makes up a cinematic film and why the big studios spend their money on what they spend their money. It's a lesson for those who try to belittle larger than life movies as cheap fantasies. Because when the shit really hits the fan, you have to run for cover; because when you make a film and put more than 50 crores into it, you want returns and to do that, you have to put in things that the viewers want to see and not what you want to show them. Select audiences are not a measure of a real director's worth. You have to prove yourself on the big day too.


Bandwidth verdict- If you love a retro setting and are looking for some candy for your eyes, watch it. For others, life is too short, skip it.

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