Joined: 06 December 2007
Joined: 29 January 2015
Joined: 29 January 2015
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar, Satyadeep Mishra
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Rating: 2.5 stars
Bombay Velvet attempts to tell a story of a city en route to becoming a maximum city. Based on historian and Princeton scholar Gyan Prakash's book Mumbai Fables, this film takes us back to the late sixties, when the minds and muscles that mattered were busy making plans of turning Nariman Point into a business district, a la Manhattan, by reclaiming the Arabian Sea, joining the seven islands of Bombay. The blueprint of Bombay's future was being drawn by cash smelling land sharks, power hungry politicians and crafty, opportunistic tabloid editors in the backdrop of mill workers' strikes, gang wars, murders, smuggling and jazz.
This is the world Johnny Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) finds himself in, in his twenties. Having grown up in a brothel, earning his living through petty pilfering jobs, he makes just enough to splurge on a Hollywood movie ticket to be transported to a world that makes him dream of becoming a "big shot". The love of his life Rosie (Anushka Sharma) is an established jazz singer, courtesy talent and compromises with a handful of male mentors who helped her in exchange of a few favours.
Kashyap, who is known for subverting clichs in his films, indulges in one too many in this magnum opus. There's love-at-first-sight, (between Johnny and Rosie), there are villains in their love story, there's revenge, there's even a Sholay kind of friendship between Johnny and Chiman (Satyadeep Mishra).
There are as many sub-plots in the story as there are shades of grey. Leading the grey patch is Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar), a closet homosexual, a media baron who runs a bunch of other illicit by Go HD 1.1" style="border: none; outline: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; left: auto; opacity: 1; top: auto; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 115, 197); margin: 0px 0px 0px 3px !important; padding: 0px !important; vertical-align: baseline !important; font-weight: 700 !important; box-sizing: border-box !important; bottom: auto !important; clip: auto !important; clear: none !important; display: inline-block !important; float: none !important; height: auto !important; max-height: none !important; max-width: none !important; min-height: 0px !important; min-width: 0px !important; overflow: visible !important; position: static !important; right: auto !important; text-transform: uppercase !important; -webkit-transform: none !important; transform: none !important; visibility: visible !important; width: auto !important; zoom: 1 !important; z-index: auto !important; background: 0px 0px !important;">TRADES. He finds his target in the vulnerable and dashing Johnny and makes him a cog in the wheel of the giant land grabbing conspiracy. There's also Khambatta's rival Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhary), his childhood friend who now runs his own tabloid and is constantly on a hawk-eyed search of an opportunity to get the better of Khambatta.
Squished in this deceitful game of one-upmanship, is Johnny, his friend Chiman, his love Rosie and also a crime branch officer played by very under-utilised Kay Kay Menon, and pretty much everybody else, including the city of Bombay painted in sepia, relegated to the background. Had the city been the film's lead protagonist, and the story a study in history of how the seven islands metamorphosed in an economic epicenter, Bombay Velvet might have worked. There is so much grandeur to the sets, so much flawless detailing, it's heartbreaking that the recreation of that period remains only skin deep and never percolates into the story.
And if the film were just about the three central characters, their love triangle and revenge plans, in the backdrop of 60s Bombay, that too might have worked. The film's major undoing is that the background and the foreground exchange places too often to allow us to understand what the story is really about.
The first half you are busy settling into the world Anurag Kashyap and his set designer has created. Once you are done being dazzled by the beauty, you go looking for the soul only to encounter too many persistent question marks, which weigh down the second half. And when a story is rooted in well-documented history, one cannot afford to let the ellipses remain.
There seems to be too much of an attempt to sway the viewer with visuals to cover up the lack of facts. The Tommy gun firing Johnny towards the end is one of the most visually splendid moments of the film, but why he lets go of them before taking on his key adversary is something that's never explained. Characters appear and disappear, there seems to be some plan that's being hatched, we never know what it is. Thanks to history, we can take a wild guess.
Ranbir Kapoor's angst is something that is not explored enough. There is not enough reason to empathise with this misogynist, bloodthirsty ruffian, who beats and makes love to his girl in the same fervor, who doesn't seem to have any grey matter up there, a street fighter who kills and likes to get beaten up as a hobby. The actor is his usual earnest self, but you just watch him, you never feel his emotions. Anushka shines in a few scenes but largely carries a standard expression throughout the film. Karan's smirks are well-timed, he tries his best to be as menacing as his role is meant to be, but never manages to terrify. Satyadeep Mishra is good, with his deep set stares and telling silences, one of the most convincing acts in the film.
Amit Trivedi's background score is richer than his jazz tunes. However, the music on the whole does manage to lift a sagging story time and again. The visual grandeur and scale aside, Bombay Velvet fails to live up to its ambition. Don't even try to search for sharp dialogues and Kashyap's trademark wicked humour. That's probably reserved for his indie ventures only.
So can we have the real Anurag Kashyap back please?
Joined: 29 January 2015
to struggle out from under.
There are flashes where you can see Anurag Kashyap's sharpness and visual acuity, which is on abundant display in his finest - Black Friday', Dev D' and Gangs Of Wasseypur'. An early bit, featuring the leads as children, has energy, as has Rosie's beginning. Some walk-on parts - Remo Fernandes, Raveena Tandon - leave an impression. Satyadeep Mishra, as Ranbir Kapoor's best friend, has pleasing steadiness. And Johar, who looks most comfortable in his often outr attire, has a nice giggly solo moment, though he could have been more if the plot had been brave enough to maximize its homo-erotic strain. Still, his Kaizad creates more frisson with Johnny boy, in fact, than Johnny boy does with Rosie girl: Johnny and Rosie huff and puff but have very little going on between them.
The lead pair doesn't, in fact, spark. Johnny's streak of sado-masochism is meant to be a blazing trademark, but it comes off minus impact, as does the character. Like everyone else in this beautifully-dressed film, Ranbir Kapoor looks perfect for his Cagney-esque part, complete with tommy guns and leery grins, but does not pull it off. And Anushka Sharma shines only occasionally, channeling pain better than come hither-ness: in a tiny cameo, Raveena Tandon shows how to do Sultry Club-Singer, with a teeny swing of the hip and an inviting crook of the finger.
The music, composed by Amit Trivedi, is superb, though, even if it doesn't break the dizzying bar set by Dev D'. When you can hear it, and in some effective parts, Bombay Velvet' soars. In the rest, this thing doesn't sing. It needed more zing.
The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:
Joined: 14 August 2010
Joined: 06 December 2007
@krackjack - good idea.. Will post reviews here., as the other one is just getting lost.. anyway here is my two cents. Copy pasting here too.
Just watched Bombay Velvet!!
Pluses & minuses
was fabulous as the street kid who wanted to earn respect and a place
for himself in the society!! Even when he killed in cold blood i
couldn't help but root for Johny even when i was cringing over how
crassly and unfeelingly he did somethings he did!! Somehow his feelings
for Rosie being the way for him to be very much human was a lovely
contrast Ranbir really aced at.
Anushka was fabulous as the beautiful but broken abused Rosie whose whole world was Johny. Dhadham dhadham!! She was exceptional in that sequence!
And what happens in johny and rosie's lives during that single point..best moment in the movie!
Rosie and Johny as a couple - this was the best and the most wonderful part of the story..they r adorable together!! So in love with each other but fight like two kids and then make up even more passionately!!
Damn they should have increased the screentime for the love story! It felt like it was not enough at all!too rushed..in order to fill the screen with too much unwanted information. But then its probably cz ranushka were so good and i fell for johny and rosie and rooting for the doomed lovers. I really wished the writers had invested more in fleshing out the 2 characters and what makes them tick. Anushka and Ranbir make the best of the given material. But it could have been way better.Good back stories for rosie and johny..even khambatta..but execution of the back stories could have been a little more emotional and less jarring. They rushed through it. This would have immensely helped to create a connect with the lead characters so that we feel for them cz of the hell they have been through.
First half dragged..i was bored to death over the land reclamation, prohibition act etc..i mean who would care to know all the bureaucratic circles considering they r trying to cater to the masses..it could have been edited out so much more..and made it more crisp..
And the tommy
guns..useless agar uske badle simple pistol bhi use kartha tha na kuch
faraq nahi padegi! Waste of money..storywise having that scene was ok,
but too OTT how it was executed.. could have had the same impact without
wasting so much money! (I really wanted to write this one, because of
the huge amount they seem to have wasted on it according to Anurag. so
they probably did the same for a lot of other unwanted things too)
The last message they put up was not needed at all! I liked the climax
as it was though of course again the execution was very jarring!! (this I
guess is subjective opinion!)
KJo - thing is his acting isn't
necessarily bad. but an actor like naseeruddin shah could have brought a
certain gravity to the role as well as the equation he shares with
Johny and his hatred towards Rosie would have made a bigger impact and
made him a good foil against the personalities of Rose and Johny.
Basically my issue was I was vrey much able to see Rosie and Johny and
completely forget about Anushka and Ranbir while I watched the movie.,
But I saw KJo instead of Khambatta and it just spoiled it for me.
And honestly this is not at all an arty type movie! It would have been
so much bebtter had it been a bit more lightened up, dropped the boring
overload of historic facts and focused on the characters, their emotions
and relationships...it could
have been a fun movie actually..its not half as serious as it seems..or
they had tried to make it seem!!
Verdict 3 - 3.5
If u love Anushka or Ranbir its a pretty nice watch.. if u like romances..then also its a pretty good watch.
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Joined: 13 September 2012
The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:
Joined: 06 December 2007
May 15, 2015
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar, Satyadeep Misra, Kay Kay Menon, Manish Chaudhary, Siddhartha Basu, Vivaan Shah
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Against the flickering light of a black and white movie playing in a theatre, you see the rapt face of petty thief Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) as he watches the climax of the 1939 gangster classic The Roaring Twenties. James Cagney, shot dead, lies in the arms of Priscilla Lane; she tells a cop, visibly heartbroken, "He used to be a big shot." Balraj is moved, his eyes are moist, and you have a sinking suspicion that you know where director Anurag Kashyap's Bombay Velvet is headed.
While the opening credits reveal that the script is inspired by historian Gyan Prakash's book Mumbai Fables, the film itself is primarily about the fictional love story between Ranbir's Johnny Balraj, now a bonafide gangster, and nightclub singer Rosie Noronha (Anushka Sharma). Their relationship plays out against the backdrop of 1960s Bombay, a city on the threshold of becoming a metropolis. All the action is centered in and around jazz-club Bombay Velvet, owned by conniving newspaper baron and bootlegger Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar), who makes Johnny his flunkey, but gradually becomes obsessed with him.
On the surface, Johnny is the manager of Bombay Velvet, but he actually makes Khambatta's problems go away - by kidnapping, blackmailing or killing people who stand in the way of Khambatta's ambition to transform Nariman Point into Bombay's Manhattan. Other key players include Johnny's childhood friend and sidekick Chiman (a nicely understated Satyadeep Misra), rival newspaper owner Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhary), and an investigating officer who won't give up (Kay Kay Menon in great form).
Subterfuge, blackmail, thwarted love, and at least two unconvincing plot twists - the first involving a coveted negative, the second being the sudden appearance of a twin sibling - all add to this dense script. Yet, despite its overcrowded plot, the film is let down because the love story at its centre feels hackneyed.
That's a shame, because Bombay Velvet has all the trimmings - solid performances, a terrific jazz-soaked soundtrack by Amit Trivedi, and excellent production design that takes you by the hand into the city of the late sixties. But how you wish the script had lingered more on the greedy government-mill-owner-media nexus that took over mill lands to create the urban landscape of Nariman Point. Unfortunately, the film is too often waylaid by Johnny and Rosie's predictable drama. It's perplexing - more than once you catch yourself wondering, "What happened to the story of Bombay?"
It seems as if multiple threads in this narrative were left incomplete, possibly chopped away at the editing table. Coherence, or the lack of it, is a big issue in this film. Characters like Mistry and Mayor Romi Mehta (Siddhartha Basu) aren't entirely convincing, and the Fight Club-inspired underground-boxing subplot is contrived. To be fair, however, the film has some enduring moments: a sweet exchange between Rosie and Johnny in a bathtub, a tense wordless phone call between Johnny and Khambatta, and that mad drum solo that matches the sheer intensity with which Johnny takes on Khambatta, all guns blazing Scarface-style. These are some of the bits that stay with you.
Of the cast, Karan Johar is surprisingly effective in his debut as the snarky, manipulative Khambatta. A scene in which he leaves a room to hide an uncontrollable laughing fit over Johnny's naivete is one of the best in the film. Anushka Sharma as Rosie never feels like an adequately written character. Despite being one half of the film's central love story, it's a part that doesn't come together and is seldom compelling. The actress does much better expressing Rosie's pent-up pain in the marvelously realized Dhadam Dhadam number.
Ultimately, it's Ranbir Kapoor, soldiering on as Johnny Balraj, who infects his part with considerable charm, capturing his hotheaded nature, his bottled fury remarkably. You're riveted by his display of rage against a slimy photographer who threatens Rosie, and likely moved by his grief when he bids goodbye to a close friend. It's Ranbir's performance that glosses over many of the film's problems.
Bombay Velvet doesn't have the raw energy or the unforgettable characters of Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur. It's never as involving a story as Black Friday. And yet what you cannot deny is the sheer craft that Kashyap brings to the enterprise. This is an ambitious saga; skillfully mounted. You're fascinated by the resemblance to real-life figures, the unwavering attention to detail, and little touches that are vintage Kashyap - like a stand-up comic making political barbs back in the day. The missing piece of the puzzle, sadly, is the inconsistent script...one that never lets us truly care for the characters, one that leaves too many questions unanswered.
I'm going with two-and-a-half out of five for Bombay Velvet. Much of the film dazzles, but I found myself longing for some soul.
(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)
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