Saturday, 24 May 2014

Film review: Bombay Talkies


Bombay Talkies, directed by four top Hindi film directors is a strange bird.  It is meant to be celebrating the completion of 100 years of Indian Cinema, but actually seems to be showcasing something else.  If it is a tribute, it is a strange one.  Consider these plots:

It opens with a story by Karan Johar, of a troubled marriage; a love triangle wherein opposite genders repel and same genders attract each other.  Yes, a story about homosexuality in which the husband in the triangle appears to be torn between remaining loyal and having a clandestine affair with his wife's male office colleague.  Somewhere in the background, there is a street urchin singing an old Hindi film song - an attempt to keep the film interest intact within the story.  

Next, Dibakar Banerjee tells a bizarre story about a struggling lower middle class guy who keeps emu in his house - for 'egg business', and talks to his dead father - a delightful Sadashiv Amrapurkar in a rare cameo.  He happens to be on a film set where he ends up being cast in a bit role, which gives him a chance to tell his own story with some extra additions to his daughter.  

Zoya Akhtar probably gives us the best of the stories, but also somewhat disturbing.  This one is about a little boy who likes dressing up like a girl and dancing, much to his father's disgust who would rather have him play football - to become "tough".  Katrina Kaif is his role model, as well as his guardian angel who teaches him to keep his interests a secret.  He lies to his father that he wants to be a pilot, when he only wants to dance like a girl.  He ends up arranging a show to raise money for his sister's class trip - a show in which he dresses up and dances like Katrina in 'Sheila ki jawani'.  

Finally Anurag Kashyap gives us a tale about a small town guy who goes to ridiculous extents to get Amitabh Bachchan taste his mother's murabba (a type of sweet), so that his father can taste the same piece and live long!  Bizarre or what!  However this story does show the mindless extent to which fans go to get a glimpse of their superstar.  

Yes, as the promos of the film suggest, it celebrates 'dream, hope, desire, thought, joy, pain, want, love and sorrow' - all parts of the 'emotion of cinema'.  Point taken, but in our films all these emotions are seen in the same film; we don't do genres very well.  After presenting these bizarre and 'non-masala' type stories, there is a montage at the end of the film, in which clips of typical pot-boiler films are shown, along with a song-and-dance medley by the popular actors of these very films.  This disconnect rankles. 

But over-all it is an interesting and thought-provoking affair; watch it if you like to see something... well, hatke!