Sunday, May 17, 2015

Anurag Kashyap's Bombay Velvet is a cinematic disaster, but Kashyap would not mind it and that is the good thing

Anurag Kashyap, it has now become clear, wants to make the kind of movies he wants to make, and he is not looking over the shoulder whether he will be or the films will be accepted, or whether they will be good or whether they will be successful. Now that is a good thing. Kashyap's wilfulness will have echoes of all good directors, starting with Orson Welles perhaps.
Despite his sincerity, his desire to do things his way, there can be no doubt that Kashyap's latest Bombay Velvet is a disaster. The film belongs to the 1950s rather than to the 1960s in its ambience. The Bombay smugglers and cheats and suit-bootwallahs had gone into their dirty safari suits in the 1960s. They did not wear hats, coats and ties and bow-ties, nor did the socialist tycoons/crooks wear suspenders. But Kashyap fancies the older, 1940s, 1950s Hollywood gangster movies look and he does not mind that it does not go with the Bombay of 1960s. If the viewer wants to get a glimpse of 1960s Bombay underworld, then he may have to go and see "Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, the 2010 film directed by Milan Luthria. So, Kashyap has made a purportedly 1960s period film about Bombay in the costumes of a few decades earlier. Kashyap is bothered about his aesthetic fancy and he is not apologetic about it.
Ranbir Kapoor, who was apparently very keen to do the lead role and literally begged Kashyap to give him that role, has really made the worst decision of his career. But he would not regret it because he gets to dress like his grandfather Raj Kapoor, though the hairstyle is different, the other gestures are an interesting imitation of the old star.
Anushka Sharma as Rosie, what else could she be?, is again an attempted throwback to an earlier undefined era, something that Madhubala performed to perfection in Shakti Samanta's Howra Bridge, the 1958 film with Ashok Kumar in the lead and a perfect noir film montage. Kashyap introduces a new element into this old role of Rosie. Operatic singing a la Anne Hathway in the musical Les Miserables, made in 2012, especially in that "Dhadaam" number.
Kashyap could have shown greater imagination and daring if he had probed the criminal corruption that was at the root of the making of Nariman Point and the World Trade Towers at Colaba. He hints at the murky goings-on that were behind the city's development of the new district, and that is what is exactly is at the heart of Bombay Velvet. But he wanted to do it in a stylised film, with a quirky and mordant sense of humour.

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