'Bombay Talkies' - beguiling, befitting homage to Indian cinema (IANS Movie Review - Rating: *****)

Film: "Bombay Talkies"; Cast: Rani Mukerji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Naman Jain, Khushi Dubey, Vineet Kumar Singh, Sudhir Pandey and Amitabh Bachchan; Directors: Karan Johar, Dibakar Bannerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap; Rating: *****

A girl on a railway station who croons Lata Mangeshkar songs with aching luminosity, a stoic gluttonous ostrich, a flirty cocky gay entertainment journalist, a closet actor, a little boy who likes to dance like Katrina Kaif and a man from Allahabad who just wants to meet Amitabh Bachchan for a few seconds ... Such are the engrossing characters that populate the unforgettable world of "Bombay Talkies".

"Bombay Talkies" is that rarity, which makes us thankful for the gift of the movies.

Four stories directed by four contemporary Bollywood directors emerge and merge with seamless splendour into a pastiche of pain and pleasure. Like four scoops of ice cream, one yummier than the other, "Bombay Talkies" serves up a flavourful quartet of delights that leave us craving for more. It's like that song written by the immortal Sahir Ludhianvi - "Abhi na jao chhod kar ke dil abhi bhara nahin".

No, that song isn't part of the film. But there are songs of the melody queen Lataji which haunt your senses as the restless edgy protagonists, each in search of an emotional liberation that strikes them in unexpected ways at the end of every story, seek a slice of cloudburst to nourish their parched spirits.

So on to the first and my favourite story directed by Karan Johar where a sterile marriage between an urban working-couple played by Rani Mukerji and Randeep Hooda is shaken by the arrival of young ebullient homosexual who enters their frozen marriage in a most unexpected way.

This story more than any other, pushes Indian cinema to the edge to explore a theme and emotions that have so far been swept under the carpet. Karan, whose most brilliant film "My Name Is Khan", was also about a marginalised community, strips the urban relationship of all its shock value. He looks at the three characters' frightening spiritual emptiness with a dispassion that was denied to the characters in his earlier exploration of crumbling marital values in "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna".

Thanks to the unsparing editing by Deepa Bhatia, a gently arousing background score by Hitesh Sonik, deft but credible dialogues penned by Niranjan Iyenger and camerawork by Anil Mehta that sweeps gently across three wounded lives, Karan is able to nail the poignancy and the irony of his urban fable in just four-five key scenes. This is his best work to date. Rani delivers another power-packed performance. It's Saqib Saleem who steals this segment with his unmitigated spontaneity and reined-in ebullience.

The second story by Dibakar Bannerjee features that wonderful chameleon actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a man who would have been an actor if only life's drudgeries had not overtaken his life. Dibakar is a master-creator of vignettes from everyday life. Here his detailing of chawl life is unerring.

Nikos Andritsakis's cinematography doesn't miss a single nuance in Nawaz's sad yet hopeful, bleak yet bright existence. The sequence where Siddiqui washes clothes with the chawl's women is savagely funny and poignant, as is his life-changing moment when Nawaz gets to perform one shot with Ranbir Kapoor. No we don't see Ranbir, we just feel his presence, and we also hear filmmaker Reema Kagti giving orders from the directorial chair, but we don't see her either.

Nawaz in Dibakar's deft hands, takes his character through a journey of profoundly saddening self-discovery without any hint of self-pity. This segment is quirky funny and tragic. No one is allowed to feel sorry for Nawaz's character. Not even Nawaz.

Ebullient and enchanting are the descriptions that come to mind while watching Zoya Akhtar's film about a little boy (Naman Jain, brilliant) who would rather dance to Katrina Kaif's song than become a cricketer or a pilot, as per the wishes of his tyrant papa (Ranveer Shorey).

The household brims over with song, dance and giggles between the Katrina-enamoured boy and his sibling and confidante (a very confident Khushi Dubey). Charming warm humorous and vivacious Zoya's film serves up a very gentle moral lesson. Let a child grow the way it wants to. Zoya's film makes our hearts acquire wings. And yes, it immortalises Katrina Kaif.

Finally, Anurag Kashyap's homage to the unmatchable stardom of Amitabh Bachchan. A simple fable of a man journeying from Allahabad to meet Bachchan, this segment is more baggy and loose-limbed than the other three tightly-edited stories. This is not to take away from its power. As played by Vineet Kumar Singh, the Common Man's devotion to the Bachchan aura is manifested in the tongue-in-cheek spoken lines and the casual energy of Mumbai's street life.

Anurag captures the sometimes-funny often-sad bustle around the Bachchan bungalow with warmth and affection. The segment certainly doesn't lack in warmth. But it could have done with a tighter grip over the narrative.

"Bombay Talkies" is segmented and layered, yet cohesive and compelling from the first frame to the last. While unravelling the magic of cinema and its impact on the minds of audiences, "Bombay Talkies" also displays how much cinema has evolved over the generations.

This is a beguiling, beautiful and befitting homage to 100 years of Indian cinema. It's also proof that different stories in an episodic film could comfortably have directors with different sensitivities staring in the same line of vision.

If you watch only one film a year make sure it's this one.

Yup, thank god for the motion picture.

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Yahoo Cricket

Latest News

  • Ranveer is now calmer, less anxious: Anushka Sharma

    Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) Actress Anushka Sharma, who worked with Ranveer Singh in the 2010 film "Band Baaja Baaraat", says he is now a calmer and less anxious person as compared to his earlier days. "When we worked together for 'Band Baaja Baaraat', Ranveer used to be very anxious and hyper on set. …

  • Tabu gets into tough inspector look for 'Drishyam'

    New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) After garnering plaudits for playing a mother in "Haider", versatile actress Tabu will be back on the silver screen with more power in a police officer's avatar in "Drishyam". …

  • Tough job to sell a film, says Vinod Kapri

    Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) Vinod Kapri, whose debut feature film "Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho", which he has directed as well as produced, says it's a tough job to sell a movie and get support from big banners. "It's a very tough job to sell a film... to take it to the big production house as well as the audiences," Kapri said. When he approached Fox Star Studios and asked officials there to watch the film, "they organised a screening and film got good response". …

  • 'Chaar Cutting': The shorts could have been more potent (IANS Movie Review, Rating - **1/2)

    Rating: **1/2 Released under the PVR Director's Rare banner, "Chaar Cutting" is a collection of four indie shorts, assembled by Jamuura Talkies in association with Celebstall. "Manila Running", the first short, begins with a hassled tourist Jacques in a taxi looking for an address, a place he is going to for some "unknown personal reason". Shot using a hand-held camera, the camera work is amateurish and the performances are mediocre. …

  • Kangana Ranaut inaugurates first Gap store in India

    New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) American multinational clothing and accessories brand Gap made its way to the Indian market on Saturday with the launch of its first store, inaugurated by actress Kangana Ranaut amidst a huge crowd in a mall here. It has come into the market via a partnership with Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd. The brand's spokesperson credited Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for popularising Gap in the country through the 1998 film "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai". Talking about the reason …

  • Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch Lists For $100 Million
    Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch Lists For $100 Million

    Hollywood’s King of Pop Michael Jackson’s dream house in California is being listed and openly going on the market for above $100 million approx. The 2700-acre property that once had amusement park rides and animals in it, has now been cleared out seeking for potential buyers. Michael Jackson had bought the ranch for an amount of $19.5 million in the year 1987 and continued to live there till 2005. Neverland includes a swimming pool, a barbecue area, basketball and tennis court and a movie …

  • Dharmendra Fit And Discharged From Hospital
    Dharmendra Fit And Discharged From Hospital

    Dharmendra who was admitted to Breach Candy Hospital after he complained of weakness and shoulder pain is all fine and healthy again. Hema Malini the dream girl tweeted on her husband’s health status saying, “Ok! Best news of the day! Dharamji is ok now & back home. Thank God!” The gorgeous actress Hema Malini is all happy and sound after Dharmendra’s discharge. …

  • Here’s Why Kangana Ranaut Is Hurt By Deepika Padukone!
    Here’s Why Kangana Ranaut Is Hurt By Deepika Padukone!

    Bollywood’s Queen Kangana Ranaut is not the type to play word games, we all know that. This is shocking because the way her recently released film Tanu Weds Manu Returns is doing at the Box Office, the actress should be happy and celebrating the success, but instead Kangana Ranaut is hurt. If you remember well, Kangana Ranaut was there for Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who was having a time of her life. …

Loading...