Often referred to as the Quentin Tarantino of Bollywood, Director Anurag Kashyap surely has a penchant for dark characters and darker story-telling. So when he comes up with a film which can be safely termed his most commercial or mainstream so far, one looks forward to it and expects something different. Alas! After watching ‘Bombay Velvet’, you realize some directors are better off with the kind of films they usually make.
1960’s Bombay- a city on the verge of becoming a metropolis. Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor), an ambitious crook wants to be a ‘big shot’. With his friend (Satyadeep Misra) by his side since childhood, Balraj happens to meet a ruthless businessman Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar). Kaizad dreams of turning Bombay’s Nariman Point into the Manhattan of India and needless to say, he can go to any extent for it. He opens a posh club ‘Bombay Velvet’ and Balraj now rechristened Johnny Balraj (you will laugh why Kaizad names him Johnny) is its Manager. Johnny does what Khambatta wants; all the wrong things in the wrong way. And there is Rosie (Anushka Sharma), a singer who joins Bombay Velvet as a spy for Kaizad’s rival but ends up getting into a relationship with Johnny Balraj. What follows is some drama… some jazz, some love, and some action but mostly, yawn!
Based on Historian Gyan Prakash’s ‘Mumbai Fables’, it would have been quite interesting if Kashyap told us more about the history of Nariman Point. Instead, that turns out to be only a small part of the narrative and we have a lousy love story which doesn’t work. Kashyap’s attempt at mainstream cinema is so contrived that you can well understand it isn’t his forte and that he is trying too hard to please the masses. In the process, he fails to make ‘Bombay Velvet’ relatable for them too and also for his own audience. But he succeeds greatly in giving you the feel of the 60’s. The cinematography, the locations, the costumes… they all transport you to the era and it is nothing short of a visual treat. That probably must have got Kashyap so busy that he might have taken the audiences for granted. After all, this is commercial cinema and there can be excuses. But it also needs to entertain. This one is a bore and… at two hours and thirty minutes, your patience is tested many a time. Music by Amit Trivedi is a plus point as it further enhances the mood and period of the film.
Ranbir Kapoor is earnest as Johnny Balraj; he is good but in a weak film and it is his third consecutive one. As much as you see him acting well, you also feel the impact seems to be missing for some time now. He is the same actor who gave us stellar performances in movies like ‘Rockstar’ and ‘Barfi!’. This also happens to be Anushka Sharma’s weakest so far. An excellent actress; her role here is so incompletely written that it isn’t her fault. She is okay in the club numbers. Karan Johar was a part of DDLJ so I don’t agree with Kashyap who claims to ‘introduce’ him as an actor; even if he did and probably because it is an important role, I don’t understand why. Johar is himself in the movie and well… his sexual preference indicative of the image he carries. As Khambatta, he does have screen presence but he mostly stares and mouths dialogues like those characters in RGV movies do. Kay Kay is hardly there and that’s a pity. Satyadeep Misra stands out among the remaining cast.
Watch it or not: Only if you want to be transported to a bygone era and don’t mind yawning through the movie.
At the Box Office: It will be a dull fare.