Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review of Bombay Velvet

Image Courtesy: http://tribune.com.pk/

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor (Johnny Balaraj), Anushka Sharma (Rosie Noronha), Karan Johar (Kaizad Khambatta), Kay Kay Menon (Vishwas Kularni), Manish Choudhary (Jimmy Mistry), Siddhartha Basu (Romi Patel), Remo Fernandez (Portuguese Man), Satyadeep Misra (Chimman), Vivaan Shah (Tony), Raveena Tandon (cameo)
Direction: 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
Screenplay: Juhi Chaturvedi
Music: Amit Trivedi
Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi
Edited by: Prerna Saigal, Thelma Schoonmaker
Production Company: Phantom Films
Distributed by: Fox Star Studios
Release Date: 15th May, 2015
Duration: 149 minutes
Language: Hindi

Bombay Velvet, is a Indian Period Crime Drama by Anurag Basu. After watching the film, I was confused, how to review this movie. I was in dilemma whether to like the movie or not. And by this time, when I sit to review this movie, much has been already written about this. Most of the reviews say that movie is a disaster. I really don’t feel like calling this movie a disaster. Box office results may be frustrating, but, here is a film, where a filmmaker has definitely crafted it with great style. The most appealing aspects of this movie are its visuals and soundtracks. But, the screenplay is very ordinary, treated at a very superficial and shallow level, lacks depth. I wonder, whether, Anurag Basu could have handled the plot differently, but I think, he did experiment with a new style.

Bombay Velvet based on a book called Mumbai Fables (by historian Gyan Prakash) projects the city of 1949-1969. Lot of street fights, boxing ring scenes, murders, political rivalries, shootouts, treacheries, power play etc. all are shown in the film. And in the backdrop of all these, jazz soirees happen. A love story also blooms.      

Raveena Tandon opens the film with her Jazz song. Balraj and his friend Chimman (as kids), are shown to stray into Bombay City. Balraj is raised by a sex-worker. He grows up as a fiery young man. He gets his dream to be ‘a big shot’ when he watches ‘The Roaring Twenties’ (a gangster film - 1939). The climax of this movie influences him: James Cagney dies in the arms of Gladys George and she says to an onlooker: “He used to be a big shot’.  This becomes the turning point of Balraj and he starts aspiring to make it big.

He happens to fall for Rosie Noronha (Anushka Sharma, this character is influenced by Lorna Cordeiro, a Jazz singer who ruled the night clubs in 1960s). Rosie is finding her own ways to survive in the city by modeling, working in a beauty parlour and singing at night clubs.

Balraj, in his aspirations to be a big shot, chooses wrong paths. His attempt of bank robbery along with Chimman fails, but that is where, the antagonist of the movie sinister media baron Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar)’s entry happens. Kaizad offers him opportunities to be a big shot. Balraj becomes Johnny Balraj. His style changes. Chimman is there with Johney Balraj in all his efforts to be a big shot. Johnny Balraj very soon grows to be the owner of Kaizad’s nightclub Bombay Velvet. Rosie becomes the star attraction of Bombay Velvet club with her Jazz singing. Rosie is his life. Bombay Velvet becomes the center of all illegal transactions.

What happens next? How Kaizad’s manipulations shape the story? How does the mentor-protégé (Kaizad – Balraj) relationship shape? What happens, when Balraj understands Kaizad’s manipulations? Is the love story between Balraj and Rosie a smooth one? How politics, power-play influences the story? What happens to the friendship between Balaraj and Chimman ?

Ranbir has done complete justice to his role as Johnny Balaraj. His retro look is convincing. Anushka has less of dialogues and more of jazz singing. She is also good but appears to be pretentious in some singing shots (is it due to her lip job gone wrong).

I am wondering why the opening credits say –‘Introducing Karan Johar’, since Bombay Velvet is not his acting debut. He has acted in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge. Karan Johar is successful in defying his good-looking image to be a villain.

Satyadeep Misra as Chimman stands out in the film. He is a terrific performer. Manish Choudhary as Jimmy Mistry (a newspaper editor) fits into the character very well. Siddharth Basu as Romi Patel is also good. Vivaan Shah as Tony (Rosie’s chauffeur), is good. Kay Kay Menon is shown as a helpless Police officer who has to succumb to power.

Bombay Velvet, though low on entertainment quotient, is very high on style quotient. You would definitely appreciate Jazz Soiree and the authenticity with which retro Bombay is shown.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Average +)