Directed by Anurag Kashyap
Produced by Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane
Written by Vasan Bala, Gyan Prakash, Anurag Kashyap, S.Thanikachalam
Based on Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash
Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
Music by Amit Trivedi
Cinematography Rajeev Ravi
Edited by Prerna Saigal, Thelma Schoonmaker
Production Company Phantom Films
Distributed by Fox STAR Studios
Release dates 15 May 2015
Running time 149 minutes
Anurag Kashyap has this unique ability and talent to surprise you with quirky ideas and innovatively conceived elements to see and present things differently on screen. Who else would think of using a popular actor in a portrayal of a male singer mimicking female counterpart in local orchestra (Yashpal Sharma in GANGS OF WASSEYPUR)? Or that breathless all ‘huffy-puffy’ police chase in BLACK FRIDAY revealing chawls and bylanes of Mumbai slums the best way anyone could; or for that matter, the 10-minute long ‘FIR’ sequence in UGLY where cops show great insensitivity towards a possible case of kidnapping of a minor. Sadly, his latest magnum-opus BOMBAY VELVET falls short of that distinctive touch of the filmmaker and then, what it does to its audience can hardly be described as surprising, or amazing, or even impressive at par his past low-budget yet highly-visionary films.
Finding a solid base in historian Gyan Prakash’s writing work MUMBAI FABLES, Anurag brings back an era that looks terrifically vintage of greater visual appeal and also, terribly cliché in holding its fort of being a classic love saga. A street fighter Johnny Balraj [Ranbir Kapoor] with hopes and dreams to die someday being ‘a big shot’ is on the rise as the Bombay of 60’s becomes the literal ‘land’ of opportunities. Land-shark Khambata [Karan Johar] needs someone handy and powerful to set up his empire and the ambitiously vulnerable Balraj is his best bet. Initial success gifts him the love of his life Rosy [Anushka Sharma] – a singer who’s forced to dance on the tunes of a manipulative Press owner Jimmy Mistry [Manish Chaudhary]. Soon, the flashy world of opportunity starts fading out to the shady game of greed, power and ambition.
With an eagle-eye in detailing, Anurag recreates the Bombay of 60’s with one of the best production-designs in Bollywood. The disappearing trams, vintage cars, graphically achieved landscapes, costumes, brilliantly envisioned set-designs; everything in the frame justifies its mark and meaning for being placed there. The club-singer is a recognized Geeta Dutt fan. His chauffer [Vivan Shah] also doesn’t miss to flaunt his so-called ‘pehchan’ with Chic Chocolate- a noted trumpeter with the famous music-director duo Shankar-Jaikishan. These minimal references work but what don’t work are the puzzling plots and subplots. They keep coming to you to earn your precious attention and interest in the film but in a perplexed way and disinterested narration that you are left in disbelief as what is happening and why? The screenplay also is a bumpy ride. Songs and the fascinatingly refined jazz music do some serious kind of damage-repair.
On the performances, Ranbir is precise, measured and totally in-character. His role on paper might sound in correlation with the character his grandfather Raj Kapoor played in SHRI 420 but Ranbir’s is a lot stylish and modern. Anushka, most of the times, is there on stage to lip-sync the club-numbers but whenever she’s off-stage, she manages to pull it off well. Karan Johar handles only one scene well that deserves a mention. His uncontrollable laugh at Balraj’s poor English language skills! For the rest, it is forgettable. Manish Chaudhary is first-rate. Satyadeep Mishra is the only actor who never ever disappoints you. Kay Kay Menon is regular.
At the last, BOMBAY VELVET has striking likeness of Martin Scorsese’s and other films of that style. This could well be Anurag Kashyap’s tribute to the filmmaker but is certainly not the best in his kitty. Watch out if you don’t know who Anurag Kashyap is, and you might come out praising him. For fans, it is a disappointment despite being not-so-bad!
Review Written By- Gaurav Rai