Movie Review: Bombay Velvet

By Bhakti Mehta

Cast - Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar

Director - Anurag Kashyap

Rating - **1/2

What the movie is about -

Bombay Velvet starts in the period just after independence when a young boy, Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) comes to Bombay (now Mumbai), with his mother who is looking for any work to survive in the city. Simultaneously we have the story of a girl in Goa, Rosie Noronha (Anushka Sharma) who is aspiring to be a singer. After these initial backgrounds, the movie jumps to the time when Rosie runs away from Goa to come to Bombay while Balraj is involved in petty thievery and street fighting. Balraj is your typical 1960's hero who wants to become something in Bombay and own the city. He starts working for an entrepreneur named Kaizad Khambata (Karan Johar) who runs a famous newspaper and changes his name to Johnny Balraj. Rosie is asked by Khambata's rival Jimmy, to spy on Balraj and therefore she goes to him knowing that he has been smitten by her since a long time.

She sings in a gentleman's club called Bombay Velvet which Balraj owns with the help of Khambata. But Rosie comes to realise that she has fallen in love with Johnny who loves her back but is now hungry for more power and success. While dealing with a corrupted corporate scenario which was evident in the late 60's, Johnny finds out what Rosie's original intention was. The story takes several interesting twists and turns from there, eventually coming to an emotional climax.

What we think -

We all know that as a director, Anurag Kashyap is famous for doing off-beat cinema. All his past ventures indicated a dark side in the script. But this time with Bombay Velvet, Kashyap has himself tried something new as he merged his story with commercial cinema. This movie was an ambitious project for the film-maker as he had started on it close to

10 years ago. He wanted to show the charm of the 1960's Bombay, as the film is set in that time, for which he ironically shot in Sri Lanka. But you can hardly see the presence of another country because with the docks, the trams and the lifestyle, all you can see is our fair old city in the past. The camera work is impressive with the smartly taken shots. Add in the witty dialogues and it makes it a decent watch for all the cinema buffs. There is one scene in the movie where Balraj is doing something heinous in the middle of the night.

That scene is shot in partial light and we can hardly see the characters face or expression but it is so superbly shot and delivers the impact that the director wanted to convey. The script of the movie was a little predictable. There is a hero who aspires to be powerful and starts working for a rich, manipulative and classy villain. The bad guy gets the hero to do all his dirty work in the start but waits for the time to double cross him. Enter a beautiful girl who wins the heart of the main
?lead but is keeping a deep dark secret which eventually separates them. Yes, we know it kind of sound likes the story from Once Upon A Time In Mumbai and although there are huge differences in these two films, the dragged out story-line is a little passe. It would have been better if Kashyap left the masala movies to the formula directors and stuck to his dark, noir dramas.

As far as the performances go, there is absolutely no question that Ranbir Kapoor is one of Bollywood's finest gems. After a long, dry spell, the actor has finally showed us why he is called the scion of the legendary Kapoor family. RK junior always tries to experiment with his roles but sadly his last two ventures, Besharam and Roy backfired. Playing a street boxer in Bombay Velvet, the actor proved that he still has the potential to become one of the biggest superstars in Bollywood. Ranbir took a stereotypical role and turned it into his own with his unique body language, especially his accent which had just the perfect touch of slang. Though all the characters have done a good job in the film, Ranbir's performance manages to overpower them several times. The scenes where he is boxing in the ring and losing, one where you can see him tearing up after an emotional turmoil, the imperfect ruthlessness he has to take what he wants, all of them show how he very subtly makes the character real and relatable.

Anushka Sharma has been on a very good streak since her last year's release, PK. Although she gave a good performance in Bombay Velvet, it did not have the wow factor. Anushka's character, Rosie hardly has dialogues in the first half of the movie and is only seen in the background. But her character which was significant from the start becomes even more crucial and powerful in the second half. Miss Sharma tries to do a classy portrayal of a jazz singer but lacks just a tiny bit behind. She has the flair to carry off the distinctive look and mannerisms at certain points but one other drawback of seeing Anushka so up close was the reminder of the lip job gone wrong that is still visible especially in songs like 'Fify'. She and Ranbir have worked opposite each other for the first time in the film and that is one thing which is very good about the film. The two not only make a good looking pair but also a believable one. There are scenes where the two are having a light hearted conversation or an intense talk about their love which they pull off quite nicely as an onscreen couple.

Surprise, surprise, Karan can act saala! The well known director, producer and talk show host, Karan Johar made his acting debut as a full-fledged baddie in Bombay Velvet.
People were skeptical when they heard that the Student Of the Year film-maker will be seen acting in a movie and that too in a negative character. But we have to say that he did a fabulous job in the role of Kaizad Khambatta, a Parsi businessman who owns a top newspaper company. His part in the movie was to signify the power and presence of the Parsi community at the time when Bombay was just beginning to shape into what it is. His villainous character has attributes like classy, funny, cold blooded and some what controversial.

He certainly did not shy away from developing a little intimacy with his protege Balraj. The scene where he comes out of his house just so he could laugh and mock at what Balraj had said goes to show his mean but witty side in the movie. It might be a little late for Karan to star in the lead roles but we certainly think that this new career choice is quite suited for the ace director and we wouldn't mind seeing him on screen again.

Several other supporting actors play quite pivotal roles in the story. Satyadeep Misra who plays the role of Johnny's close friend, has shown potential with his intense skills.

Kay Kay Menon can also be seen in the film as a cop but his deep acting talent seems completely wasted in this role. TV personality Siddharth Basu is also acting in the film. It seems like Anurag wanted to prove that he could take non-actors and teach them the art of acting. Vivaan Shah plays a very small and easily forgettable part of Rosie's driver. The movie also marked a kind-of comeback for Raveena Tandon as we can see her in the start of the movie with the dramatic flair of a jazz singer. Her second appearance in the film is not as effective, as we are already caught up in the story, but the ravishing Raveena wins points for her glamour and sexiness.

Music director Amit Trivedi needs to take a bow. He might not have given chart-buster songs but when you watch the movie, the retro music completely fits in. And so does the jazz. Kashyap wanted to explore this particular melodious category and in that he completely succeeded. Neeti Mohan was outstanding and proved to be a powerful singer. The background score is also gripping and complements the scenes of the film whether they are funny, romantic or thrilling.

Our Verdict -

If you go in thinking it will be a dark and interesting story like other Anurag Kashyap movies then you might be a little disappointed. Though he has done a good job, we expected more from him as far as the story is concerned. All Ranbir Kapoor fans are in for a treat as they finally get to see the star doing some good and productive acting. You can definitely invest in the film, as it can be termed as a one time watch, but do not go in with any expectations.

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