Saw Bombay Velvet today, twitter has been abuzz with all film folks praising the movie to the hilt.Massive hype about the film. So the film is a departure for Anurag. He has made his first love story. At the core of the film is passion between Balraj & Rosie.The movie is set in the 50’s and the 60’s when Bombay is being made into Bombay that is today. The city is home to all kinds of people.
The writers of the film make references to major events of the time like Godse’s hanging and land reclamation to build the city. The script has many layers & is a homage as well. Balraj is seen watching an English gangster film where the lead character is shown as being a big shot. So off he goes to become one as well.
He meets the scheming Kambhatta,played superbly by Karan Johar. So they end up murdering,blackmailing & bullying their way to power.So Johnny Balraj gets to run a club called “Bombay Velvet” owned by Khambatta. Rosie becomes the star singer at the club. The writers explain the timeline with clever references to the events at the time like the Nanavati murder case.
The song”Slyvia” is named after wife of Commander Nanavati, who was found by him in bed with Prem Ahuja.Nanavati murdered Ahuja and went to be acquitted in the case( the last case ever tried by a jury in India). The narrative is backed by some incredible jazz by Amit Trivedi. The use of songs in the narrative is splendid.
Johnny shoots a guy who claims to have photographed Rosie when she was a nobody . The element of lovelorn betrayal is captured with “Slyvia” in the background. The script is heavily influenced by movies like Scarface,Casino,Goodfellas & the romance is straight out of Titanic.
Ranbir’s character is straight out of Casino almost a spitting image of Sam from Casino.So Ranbir puts on his own act of Ronbert De Niro (RK is jaw dropping in portrayal). Chiman’s character is Nicky from Casino. Jimmy Mistry is the news guy from LA Confidential.
Take the plot of LA Confidential which starts with a murder goes into how the LA was made what it was by the mob.The script of BV also takes the same tangent. Bombay is up for sale with all the new development and politicians,businessmen & media all want a part of the city .
So Johnny gets used by Khambatta & Rosie is planted into Johnny’s life Jimmy Mistry. Khambatta & Mistry are sworn rivals who use Johnny & Rosie but fail to figure that they are madly in love with each other.The film becomes cliched in the second half with the normal blackmail track and a twist which fails to excite. The songs are used wonderfully to enhance the emotions. The song “Darbaan” is very well used. With its incredible lyrics, it has the right impact. It conveys Johnny’s inability to have a seat at the power table. The lyrics are:
“This world thrives on give & take, trade off
There is chance so grab it, there is huge palace
with a guard at the door, you are the king of the streets
you are destined to be on the streets,few have the palace
they are the rulers with the guard at the door to keep you out”
Mohabat Buri Bimari is a stunning song again used when Johnny is betrayed by Rosie.Again wonderful song juxtaposed with Johnny getting beaten in a bare knuckled bout.
RK and Anushka are incredible in the film so is the rest of the cast. But the film lacks the suspense and the intrigue and becomes predictable. The edit by Thelma Schoonmaker and Prerna Sehgal could have been better. The screenplay is a bit choppy and the subplots not convincing.
This film is a glorious mess….a mess worth being soaked in.