I bought tickets to Bombay Velvet before the scathing reviews came out. Reviews that called it Anur AAG or AK ki Aag & lamented loudly about how one man’s dream (Anurag Kashyap’s) becomes another (audience’s) nightmare. Reviews that called it an epic fail etc & deemed it a massive flop on the 2nd day of its release before it was even given a chance.
So it was with least expectation & much trepidation I went to see the movie- quite prepared to walk out as soon as boredom struck. I walk out of many (make that almost all) Hindi films, my tolerance for poor story telling zero. Regardless of the hero.
So here goes my 2 cents. At interval point in the movie I was totally impressed. In spite of a genre done to death- Film Noir (Martin Scorsese even finds a fleeting mention in the film), and rather indulgent story telling of a story you already know and have seen many times before I came out to buy pop corn thinking- hey nice movie. Very well shot. Well performed- Ranbir Kapoor is at his vulnerable shaky best, awesome acting debut by Karan Johar ( we are going to ofcourse ignore Dilwaale Dulhaniya leh Jaayenge here) excellent music , high octane nostalgia & a most of all a slice of history. Mumbai History – or rather Bombay. The land of the Parsi , drenched in post colonial hypocrisy. Before the Dawoods and the Chota Rajan’s changed its face forever. A side of Mumbai’s history nobody knows or has seen before. The film has so many pluses I was willing to completely ignore the papier mache cut out sets trying to pass off as streets & clubs & rich men’s nests.
My God- I felt fascinated. Is that how my great Mumbai City was built. I felt hungry for more. Show me maps, give me facts, show me which builder built what which politician got flak. Show me the reclaimed parts of the city & the bodies of the mill workers buried in that. But instead of delving into the history & the whole sky scrape point of Nariman, the camera chooses to zoom back repeatedly into Anushka Sharma’s white tongue & pink tonsils. Focussing on the doomed love story of Johny & Rosie. The wannabe big shot & the mandatory big shit. Ya ya been there seen that… So I now understood why the Hollywood investment backed out and ran.
But hey if that’s the story Anurag Kashyap wants to tell so be it. In all fairness it’s been competently told too. Even if it felt like intellectual masturbation that stops just shot of an orgasm. Fiddle dum fiddle dee. The fly has married the bumblebee. And that penultimate last scene when Karan Johar is getting stabbed but his expression looks like he’s having an orgasm …I mean WTF genre is that? Like Dharavi meets Gucci meets Felini accidentally & they all decide to play movie movie. Then they get so busy back thumping and bitching about everybody else they forgot to or maybe didn’t have time to edit out about half an hour of un necessary footage.
Anyway the point of this write is that I am shocked at the negative reviews of Bombay Velvet. It’s not a great film but it’s NOT a bad film either. It’s definitely worth the time and money spent – if you have enough of both to spare. Like I overheard someone asking at the theatre ‘Have some of Anurag’s or Karan’s enemies tried to sabotage this movie? Has someone actually paid for these mercilessly scathing poor reviews? I mean if a senior journalist can write that the BMC is to blame for the Salman hit and run case!!! Or Jackie Bhagnani’s Youngistaan can be sent as India’s entry to the Oscars!!! I do believe anything is possible in India.
I’m glad I came to see the film anyways. Because even with its flaws it’s still better than 75% of Hindi films being made these days”