Bombay Velvet Movie Review

Thursday, May 14, 2015
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar, Satyadeep Mishra, Kay Kay Menon, Vivaan Shah, Manish Chaudhari
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Produced by: Fox Star Studios, Vikas Bahl & Vikramaditya Motwane
Written by: Anurag Kashyap, Gyan Prakash, Vasan Bala, S Thanikachalam
Music: Amit Trivedi
Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi
Edited By: Prerna Saigal, Thelma Schoonmaker
In a scene from ‘Bombay Velvet’, Karan Johar (as the elitist power broker Kaizad Khambatta) steps out of a meeting with Ranbir Kapoor (as Johnny Balraj) & Satyadeep Mishra (as Chiman Chopra), laughs his heart out at his protégé’s poor English. In a nutshell, it neatly captures the film’s spirit; the powerful elite don’t believe in sharing their glory with unpolished upstarts. ‘Bombay Velvet’, a love story set in the backdrop of destructive ambition, rides on this conflict. Although, not at all points is its vision neatly conveyed.
‘Bombay Velvet’ is the story of Johnny Balraj & his childhood buddy, Chiman Chopra who casually commits petty crime to make ends meet. Both escape the Partition for a tough life on the streets. A chance encounter with the glib, ambitious power broker and tabloid owner Kaizad Khambatta gives their lives a dicey but promising direction. They become suited, booted musclemen who run a club; a nest of (legally) forbidden pleasures & power broking for the city’s elite.

Here, in this seductive and sophisticated ‘Bombay Velvet’, Jazz singer Rosie Noronha (Anushka Sharma) is main attraction. She is implanted by a rival newspaper baron, Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhari). As crime festers under velvetine table covers & swirls of prohibited liquor, the police catch up; Honest, hatted cop Vishwas Kulkarni(Kay Kay Menon) enters the mix, wearing nonchalant amusement as his armor.
At the center of it all is the passionate love story of Rosie & Johnny; they say little but love dangerously. Johnny numbs his painful past by boxing bare knuckle; Rosie risks everything by choosing love over all else. And Khambatta, who has had to fight ugly to recover his family fortunes, doesn’t like this. When Johnny finally demands a seat on the high table, Khambatta mocks him and turns.
The heart of ‘Bombay Velvet’ beats sinuously; but the plot’s backdrop is somewhat muddled. Power broking is over reclaimed South Bombay land. That leads to tussle between Communist sponsored mill workers & their owners.
Khambatta connives to get land deals and Johnny provides the muscle. Jimmy Mistry counters this. Their respective newspapers compete in printing dirty linen. Amidst all this, there are some negatives of photos. While the plot twists, turns & swerves sufficiently in it’s first half, in the second half, it’s emotions and argument become tepid. Honestly, all that whiskey drinking onscreen (even during the day) gave me a slightly woozy feeling.
Having said that, ‘Bombay Velvet’ is a huge achievement for its maker & his team. It’s scale, scope & grandeur is alluring and visually stunning. From docklands to mill lands to the red light district of Falklands Road, Bombay has been revisited masterfully. Jazz, as it flows in and out of the film’s narrative, is it’s subtle intoxication; and its editors have ensured that visuals, background score & narrative seamlessly come together. Much after the film wraps up, you end up humming from it’s songs. So far, the songs featuring Rosie Noronha have been promoted on television. It’s the song by Papon and another one by Mohit Chauhan that stay with you the longest; for their timing and melody.
While its story is it’s biggest star, the film is equally a testimonial to brilliant performances. Ranbir Kapoor is effortless & powerful, boiling over with anger convincingly. Anushka Sharma doesn't say much in this film, but her silences convey her helpless fate subtly. Their love story could honestly have been given some more time to flourish. It is raw, unseasoned & quite real in its crazed texture. Kay Kay Menon, with a meaningful smirk, convinces you of his acting prowess again. Satyadeep Mishra is a find in this film; he smolders onscreen with emotive eyes. And then there’s Karan Johar; as a scheming, greedy & posh power broker, Johar is convincing and natural. Again, Khambatta could have been given some more background and dialogues in the film; the menace he dishes out is at the crux of this celluloid ‘haves and have nots’ struggle.
As the plot meanders away at some points, high impact visual sequences (the one with the tommy guns etc) feature as reminisces of Scorcese & Coen Brothers’ classics. They don’t fit in entirely in this Indian retro tale; but look beautiful.
Anurag Kashyap proves his mettle with brave forays in historical fact & filmy glamour. Does beauty make up for flaws in the purely commercial format? Perhaps, it does. Seeing Raveena Tandon singing in elaborate costume definitely tilts the debate in favor of beauty here.
‘Bombay Velvet’ is a definite watch for fans of love stories, high voltage drama, retro flicks & RK- Anushka. Watch it for a solid dose of retro romance, glamour & past glory.
Ticket Price Value:80 Percent

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