Friday, 3 May 2013

Bombay Talkies Cheers to Another 100

Directors  Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap

Starring    Rani Mukerji, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Randeep Hooda, Ranvir Shorey, Amitabh Bachchan, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Saqib Saleem, Vineet Singh, Sudhir Pandey.

To commemorate the 100 years of Indian Cinema, comes this film, which has 4 stories, directed by 4 eminent directors of our times. I was expecting a lot from this quartet and I must say barring 1, I was not disappointed.

The theme is Bombay (not Mumbai) and its umbilical connection to cinema (read Bollywood). But more than that, it is a ode to different styles of film making that co-exist in our cinema, and for that I clap loudly, and whistle unabashedly.

The first story is by Karan Johar "Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Ye".

It is the boldest, definitely Kjo's earnest attempt at coming out of his own mould. He tries to deal with the hitherto non-existent characters of realistic Gay people and relationships, without making a caricature out of them or using them for comic relief. Remember Dostana?

Rani Mukerji is a glamorous editor of a tabloid dealing mainly with Bolly gossip who is married to Randeep Hooda, a news anchor of repute. In walks an Intern, Saqib, who is gay and is out of the closet. Their lives change forever with his entry into their lives. The underlying tension between Randeep and Saqib leads to revelations and upheavals in the monotonous lives of the husband and wife. Rani is brilliant in her portrayal of a much married wife who blames herself for the placid sex life, and hides behind bright make up and sexy cleavage revealing blouses. The scene in the end where she breaks down, only an actress with supreme self confidence can deliver. Randeep is ok, as an in the closet married gay. Yes, that is what you will get to see, our first mainstream gay love story. But for me it struck a false note right in the beginning, and set the tone for me, where you can see Karan trying too hard to come out of his comfort zone. Dialogues like "Gale main Mangalsutra, aankhon main Kamasutra" may be sassy, but spoken as opening lines of an Intern to his senior, well I don't buy.

Next up you are treated to a brilliantly directed piece by Dibakar "Star".

Give this guy a good story, in this case, the story is by the master, Satyajit Ray "Patol Babu - Film Star". Supported by a brilliant performance by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and a bravo, goose bump inducing act by Sadashiv Amrapurkar. This story deals with an average middle aged man struggling to make ends meet, who once was theater actor son of a legendary natya samrat in interior Maharashtra, and his brush with Bollywood. This story keeps you hooked from the first frame to the last as the camera zooms out and shows the Bombay of chawls and dreams.

Now coming to Zoya Akhtar's story"Sheila Ki Jawani".

Once I got over the shock that it has borrowed a lot from Libero, an Italian film I had seen just a couple of days back, I sat back and let myself be mesmerized by Naman Jain. The story is of a young Katrina worshiping boy, who hates football and loves to dress up in all things girly. His father is a strict, middle class man, trying to keep up with the rising expenses of the city. The boy is slapped hard by the father when he is all made up, mother's lipstick and all and is dancing to an item song. His fairy Katrina visits him and tells him some dreams are to be kept as a secret, because not everyone understands our dreams. How he uses his dream to fulfill the one of his sister's is the touching story. Again breaking stereotypes, and delving into a totally alien theme in our mainstream cinema, Sheila Ki Jawani is a big feather in Zoya's cap. And Naman Jain, his dance moves are totally endearing and such fun.

The last story is "Murabba" by Anurag Kashyap

It is the story of Vijay (Vineet Singh) from Mutthiganj Allahabad, whose father has entrusted him with the task of taking one last Murabba that his mother has made to Bombay and make sure Amitabh Bachchan, the god of the film loving masses takes a bite of. A dream of many, meeting Amitabh Bachchan, lived by a rare few. Will he be able to fulfill this dream, and save his father, who believes eating the Murabba which Mr. Bachchan has tasted will give him a fresh lease of life, is what this film deals with. As expected there are many a nuanced moments, of Sudhir Pandey (playing the father) recalling how Dilip Kumar had tasted honey which he had taken to Bombay on his father's insistence, to the interaction between Vijay and the AB duplicate also named... well, Vijay and the scene between the guard and Vineet. Over all it is an extension of Anurag's brand of film making. Full of humor built in dramatic situations and capturing the inbuilt ironies of Bombay. There are a few moments where you wonder "aingg?" but over all you stay engaged. Vineet is excellent and I enjoyed watching Sudhir Pandey on the big screen after a long time. And of course, Mr Bachchan, who makes a brief appearance, yet made the theater break into taalis.

So over all , a satisfying experience, and a film I can easily watch once more and absorb some more of the magic cinema brings to our lives. In the end I clapped like most of the people in the theater, and quietly doffed my invisible hat to our cinema, and wished it Happy 100th Birthday.

For me in the order of my liking 1) Hero 2) Sheila Ki Jawani 3) Murabba 4) Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Ye


Rating 4/5

1 comment:

  1. Just a correction in Dibakar's story. The famous Marathi play is called 'Natasamrat' नटसम्राट