Bombay Velvet Mumbai Noir
Rating : **
Director Anurag Kashyap is known for his realistic, off-beat movies like Black Friday, Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur and Ugly. The protagonists in his movies aren’t the usual A-list actors of Hindi Film industry but are the under-utilized fine actors like KK Menon, Nawazuddin, Manoj Bajpayee. Well the bad news is that Bombay Velvet does not have either the qualities. It is a big budget bonanza, Anurag Kashyap’s leap into the sort of main stream movie making with big star cast and larger than life portrayals. That is the problem with Bombay Velvet it tries to fuse two non-complementing genres, so the result ends up to be a somewhat half-baked product.
The story is based on historian Gyan Prakash’s book Mumbai Fables, about a boy Balraj who arrives in Bombay post the partition and befriends with another boy Chiman and they become partners in crime. On the other hand there is Rosie who is picked up as a student by a musician after he hears her in a church choir. But instead of getting singing lessons she is abused and one day she runs away to Bombay.
Balraj fantasizes Hollywood crime caper, does street fights and dreams of becoming a ‘Big Shot’, while Rosie meets a journo and does modelling for newspapers. Accidently Balraj meets Khambata, a business man with a vision for Bombay, who promises to make Balraj a big shot and gives him a new name, Johnny Balraj. While working for Khambata how Johnny grows his business with his muscle and later falls in love with Rosie and how his ambitions and love put him against his godfather is what the movie is about.
Or maybe it is about how Bombay became the city run by the corporates and politicians who are hand in glove with the mafia and how they ruin the mill workers life in the process. There is so much going on in the movie but still it seems to lack depth. The characters are just superficial, the love story not you will feel much.
All these happenings come across a boring story due to lack of cohesiveness. There are double crossing, killings, betrayals and loyalties but all very clichéd which is very unlikely for a Anurag Kashyap movie.
On the acting front Ranbir shines in his character of Johnny Balraj and delivers some interesting lines. Anushka as Rosie is okay, as this character of hers does not much except wearing opera hats and singing in the club. Karan Johar as the antagonist does not interest you much as I did not like his dialogue delivery, not a villain material. KK Menon is wasted as the investigator.
The things that are really worth applause is the films set up, art direction and the music. I am not sure of how Bombay looked in the 60’s but the setup will definitely remind you of noir cinema of Hollywood and LA depicted with bright lit club houses and vintage cars. The background score is awesome and fills some excitement in the stale scenes. The soundtrack filled with jazz numbers in the 60’s style by Amit Trivedi is worth the money. My favourite is the haunting track “Dhadam dhadam” must listen.
The two gun fight sequences are done aesthetically and they are the fine touches of the filmmaker. So seems like this one has already tanked some of the media reports around the film is below…don’t waste the money on this one rather purchase songs online and enjoy the music.
My comic book lover friends will be disappointed as rumors were the profits from this movie was to be used for financing DOGA, now good luck to them.