Bombay Talkies, a four director masterpiece?

Bombay Talkies, what can i say about this film. Correction. These films. 

Yes, Bombay Talkies is a collaborative picture comprising of four approximately 25 minute segments by Directors: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap (In order), meant to commemorate 100 years of Indian Cinema. I will review each film separately. (I do not SPOIL the stories for you)bombay-talkies

Karan Johar: The first of the four segments is Karan Johar’s. Its the boldest of the lot. Karan writes this short film with an interesting twist at the end. But thats not why I call it bold. The film is bold because of the way it addresses homosexuality. Karan’s film deserves praise for numerous reasons. Firstly, we haven’t (ever) watched a Karan Johar film which is THAT low budget. It was a big question for him too, as to how he would pull it off. But I think he does it ever so well. 

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Special praise for Randeep Hooda who plays his character excellently. The dialogue is extremely cheesy with puns and double meanings that keeps one well engaged, humorously as well. Some instances of a person’s character are often difficult to express in their entirety, but Karan somewhat manages to do that well. The suspense of his film is well written undoubtedly but one of the last scenes, in my opinion, doesn’t hit that hard enough. The conclusion remaining the same, but that scene could have been done in a bit more hard hitting way. Overall, Karan comes with a surprise package. 

 

Boldness at its best in recent Indian Cinema and thats a great thing. His picture can also make one feel bad for an homosexual and understand him (as the character is a male). It kicks off and makes way for the coming three segments well. A good starter.

My rating: 3.5/5

Dibakar Banerjee: Dibakar Banerjee’s picture finds itself in second place, sandwiched between Karan’s and the interval. Dibakar Banerjee, always known for creating interesting, pleasure to watch characters doesn’t minutely fail to do it out here. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a great actor plays the struggling actor. Nawaz with his expressions and dialogue delivery makes you fall in love with his character and connect with him in a very different way, so much so that you feel for him and begin to predict his next actions. All praise for Dibakar’s high quality direction. bombay-talkies-screengrab2_3801The dialogue is tasty, humorous and also expresses the character’s pain, suffering and helplessness despite having great acting inside him. But there is something about this segment that has perfect short film written all over it. The last scene of the film is the best ‘last scene’ out of all the four segments. The camera work is praiseworthy, some of the frames set (especially one) remain in your head as you go back home from the theatre. Nawaz makes you laugh and cry for him, he makes you understand that character in such amount of depth that is seemingly very very difficult for a short film character, he makes you ponder upon about the life of many struggling actors and also how they manage life outside and at home. Dibakar creates a high quality picture that is such a joy to watch, and sometimes just get into. Its a directional masterpiece. It leads way for two great films, after the interval. 

My rating: 4.5/5

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Zoya Akhtar: Zoya begins the second half with a unique, adorable and touching story. Not only is this story well written, but there are many instances in the film, where just the silent actions of the characters can help you understand a great detail about them. Zoya’s lead character is a young boy who plays the character of a school going boy excessively influenced by Cinema and wants to become Katrina Kaif. On paper, this story is the most difficult out of the 4 to pull off.But Zoya creates a great film out it, fearlessly. Humor and pain balance themselves in a unique way in this film. Sibling relationships are adorably expressed. Every dialogue, is a dialogue we would hear if one of us was in that position. How many times have we seen it around us that children go from door to door in their colony to call their friends to play cricket when they’re hidden intention is only to borrow his bat? Minute instances are given a lot of importance and the best part is, it doesn’t feel deliberate at all. A great quality about this short is that, in a crowd of people or just children, not everyone feels the same way towards what is going on on the stage, or in a theatre, people are madly screaming for Katrina as ‘Shiela ki Jawani’ goes on on screen but characters like the boy’s father played by Ranvir Shorey, is startled and looks back at them as though they were just weird. When a performance is on, some are laughing, some understand the performer, some just think it is weird and freaky, some are, just like the performer, so much into the performance, screaming every word of the lyrics. Every child is unique and that is the hidden message this film carries. Apart from the fact that one should follow their dream. Very often, be silent about it as people may simply not understand you. Zoya creates a very unique piece, something no body has seen before, probably something no body has thought but is ever so possible. 

My rating: 4/5

 

Anurag Kashyap: Last but not the least (cliche, I know) is Anurag Kashyap’s film about a man from Allahabad who wants to meet Amitabh Bachchan… to fulfill his father’s dream. Simply have to start by saying ‘Vineet Singh, take a bow.’ A tremendous acting performance. Humor, pain, suffering, determination, sorrow and the dream, all get culminated in Anurag’s picture. An interesting point, Anurag Kashyap, pulls off the ‘ideal structure’ for not just a short film, for any film. Despite of what this film is on paper, it manages to stay extremely real. One might think , Is the time span enough to show the ‘wait’ to meet Amitabh, wont it be too fast? Anurag proves you wrong if you thought this way. He arranges the events in such a way that you are engulfed by the happenings and even though the film has a short time span, it makes you feel and understand Vineet Singh’s character, his pain, desperation perfectly, in the backdrop of his extremely strong will. Out of all the four films, Anurag’s is the most authentic. There are no two three four ways about that. The dialogue pulls you in to the character who you may just not connect with, otherwise. Vineet Singh’s expressions define authenticity in the given situation. He puts you in a position where you simply cannot image a single actor on the face of the Earth who’d be able to pull off that role half as ‘real-ly’ as him. The idea of Amitabh’s famous dialogues playing in the background during a certain scene also, surprisingly increases the authenticity and realness of the film, for an idea which is actually very plasticky if you think about it (without watching the movie). 

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Its difficult to explain how it works so well. Another plus point, the film doesn’t end where you think it will end (thankfully). There is another twist that makes you feel that Vijay (Vineet Singh’s character) is back to square one. But interestingly, that is what gives the film an ideal structure. A structure that is very much evident incidentally but yet pretty much unpredictable. Suspense-fully, this film works the best out of the 4 for me. But then again, not all the films had to have that twist at the end, and they didn’t. Anurag’s film, ends the entire picture as the four unique films complete.

My rating: 4/5 

 

Best Film

All are very very close, I mean it.

Dibakar Banerjee > Anurag Kashyap and Zoya Akhtar > Karan Johar 

Best Acting

Anurag Kashyap > Dibakar Banerjee > Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar 

Best Writing 

 Anurag Kashyap > Karan Johar > Zoya Akhtar > Dibakar Banerjee

Most Creative Film

Zoya Akhtar > Dibakar Banerjee > Anurag Kashyap > Karan Johar 

 

Bombay Talkies is certainly a must watch. What turned me off was the closing song (celebrating the 100 years) which i thought could be much much much better and more interesting. Secondly, its quite a long piece, and it comes AFTER the THE END, wherein, many people have already gotten off their seats (majority in my case) and are already walking towards the exit. 

Bombay Talkies is a great way to celebrate Indian Cinema’s first century!

I give the movie, overall, 4/5. 

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About Ronak Kamat

Writer, filmmaker, photographer. View all posts by Ronak Kamat

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