Bombay Velvet Movie Review

Bombay Velvet Movie Review

We all know that Bollywood is yet another name for ‘gamble’. Those in the business of making films will surely vouch for the fact that every Friday can make or break careers. Maybe that explains the reasons as to why majority of filmmakers intend to play ‘safe’ with their film’s genre like rom-com, thriller and likes. Barring a handful of them, not many filmmakers are known for their risk taking abilities with a period film. The last period film which hit the silver screen was DETECTIVE BYOMKESH BAKSHI, which met with mixed reactions at the box-office. This week’s release is yet another period drama by the name of BOMBAY VELVET. Will this film have a ‘velvet’ smooth run at the box-office or will it turn out to be a letdown, let’s analyze.

The film, that’s set in the era of 1949, welcomes the audiences with a track by Raveena Tandon Thadani (special appearance). On the other hand, while a young Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) is busy taking his baby steps in this man-eat-man world, he also spends his time in the red light district nursing frustrations of seeing his mother getting slapped and abused. Youth throws him in the boxing ring of free-for-all fighting to earn some ready cash. He then comes across Chiman (Satyadeep Misra), who not just becomes his partner in crime, but also his friend for life. As they march ahead in life, they, gradually land up becoming the henchmen for Kaizad Khambata (Karan Johar), editor of the tabloid ‘Torrent’ and also a top wheeler-dealer. Impressed with his dare devil attitude, Kaizad appoints Balraj to manage his club named ‘Bombay Velvet’. In addition to this, Kaizad also entrusts him with the task of wiping out the ‘Communist’s opposition to this ‘Capitalist’ plan. But he meets with a roadblock called Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhury), editor of pro-labour class tabloid ‘Glitz’. It is then, that the beautiful jazz singer Rosie (Anushka Sharma) is sent as a honey trap to lure Balraj by Jimmy. But the duo consummate their passionate romance and become inseparable. The henchman wants to have his share of the pie in the new money-order and that’s when the drama turns bloody and what-happens-after. Meanwhile, Kaizad tries to adopt the policy of divide and rule between Balraj and Chiman. Does Rosie become successful in her role of a honey trap, does Kaizad become successful in separating the Balraj-Chiman duo and what ultimately happens to ‘Bombay Velvet’… is what forms the rest of the story.

First things first. The film’s director Anurag Kashyap needs to be applauded totally for having immense belief in his product named BOMBAY VELVET. Right from the word go, he transports you into an era that makes you believe in whatever you see and hear. Anurag, who has mostly been associated with offbeat cinema, sweeps you off the floor and also your imagination with BOMBAY VELVET. It won’t be wrong to say that he has created the film with a right mix of great performances and eye-catching visuals. Anurag’s impeccable proficiency and flawless mastery over the medium is something that needs to be appreciated. It was a noble intention when Anurag Kashyap wanted to portray the jazz culture of the 1960s through his movie, but that drastically reduces his audiences as far as the Hindi movie going public is concerned. The flip side of the film is that it tends to be way too lengthy in its first half. But the damage control of the first half’s drag takes place in the film’s enticing second half. It is in the second half the film’s pace picks up with dramatic twists and turns, culminating it into a chilling and nail biting climax. The irony of the film is that while its length (148 minutes) plays a spoilsport, there is hardly anything in the film which could have been edited or snipped! In that case, one just cannot place the blame on the film’s editors (Thelma Schoonmaker & Prerna Saigal). Besides the grandeur on which the film has been mounted, there are a handful of scenes in the film which are bound to catch your undivided attention. The introduction (bank) scene of Karan Johar and the sequences which follow it sets the tone and the direction of the movie. In addition to that, Ranbir Kapoor’s fight sequences also form the highlight of the film.

The connoisseurs will love the jazz music (masterfully put together by Amit Trivedi), but, somehow it won’t find resonance with the regular film going audience in India that’s grown up on simpler more relatable forms of music. The remix of the Geeta Dutt number ‘Jaata Kahan Hai Deewane’ from the yesteryear’s CID is the only song that will sway the mass audience. Wouldn’t it have been better if Anurag had tried to rediscover Geeta Dutt brand of singing instead of the very niche jazz? All songs in the film are very situational. On the other hand, the film’s dialogues (Gyan Prakash, Thani, Vasan Bala & Anurag Kashyap) are refreshing and their bunch of one liners are bound to hold your attention. The film’s engaging and entertaining screenplay and neat cinematography (Rajeev Ravi) only add to the glitter of the film.

Ranbir Kapoor has delivered one of his career’s best performances in BOMBAY VELVET. There is a crazy energy around his madness that gets you hooked from start to finish. In spite of his roguish ways, there is an impetuous innocence in him that strikes you as an audience. The relentless attempts to rise from being a mere thug (laughed off by his masters) to almost-being a ‘big shot’ has a Jonathan Livingstone Seagull intensity that carves a place in your heart-n-mind. Anushka Sharma, on the other hand, looks beautiful and delectably sensuous. She manages to say a lot through her silences and deep tear-laden-eyes. There is a mischievous side to her as well and also the one that learns to dominate the domineering men. She excellently portrays the singing-on-screen. The gigantic emotion in ‘Dhadaam Dhadaam’ has been brilliantly portrayed by her. The love story between Rosie and Johnny is heartwarming and endearing, but there’s too much of blood that’s spilled to really savor the romance. After PK and NH10, Anushka seems to be coming of age with the selection of the right script and also the character driven association. She gets into the skin of the character she is playing. By the time the film ends, you almost forget Anushka, because your mind is already filled with the memories of Rosie. If you thought that Karan Johar was only about making larger than life candy floss romantic films, BOMBAY VELVET is bound to change the way you look at him. He is bound to stun everyone with his acting debut. He gets into his character so effortlessly that you can’t think of anyone else having played that role so effortlessly. He is outstanding in a scene where he goes out of the room to laugh uncontrollably at Balraj’s demands. There is a sharp comment on Johar’s sexual preferences. He coins the name Johnny for Balraj while looking at a strategic location in Ranbir’s anatomy. There is at least one more incident where you get to understand that Khambata has a leaning for men and his trophy wife is just a honey trap for seducing powerful men in compromising positions. A special word of mention to Satyadeep Misra for having delivered such a realistic performance. The rest of the characters help in moving the film towards its destination.

Special brownie points to the film’s production designer (Sonal Sawant) for having created the ‘Bombay’ of the 1960’s. The vintage cars, the buses, the trams, the roads, the building spare no efforts in transporting you in a different world altogether. Niharika Bhasin has tirelessly crafted authentic costumes and the detailing is bang on.

On the whole, BOMBAY VELVET is a visual masterpiece that is rich in form. If you want to be wowed by the detailing of the 1960s, superb performances of Ranbir Kapoor, Karan Johar and Anushka Sharma, then go ahead and watch this film.

The Rating
3.5 out of 5
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