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The Story Frame:
Bombay Velvet is inspired by Gyan Prakash's book, Mumbai Fables that narrates the colourful history of Bombay and its becoming a Manhattan of India. It has Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Satyadeep Misra, Karan Johar, Siddhartha Basu, Kay Kay Menon, Manish Choudhary as lead actors.
It is the story of a Goan girl, Rosie Noronha, ending up as a Jazz singer in the city's hottest jazz bar called Bombay Velvet and Balraj aka Johnny, a small-time criminal who manages Bombay Velvet for a shrewd real estate and media baron, Kaizad Kambhatta.
The film's plot is about how powerful people with vested interest settles scores with each other to decide the destiny of an emerging city as the financial capital of India. What happens to the love story of Rosie and Balraj need to be watched in a nearby theatre.
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor (Balraj), Anushka Sharma (Rosie Noronha), Satyadeep Misra (Chimman, Balraj's friend), Karan Johar (Kaizad Khambata), Kay Kay Menon (Vishwas Kulkarni, Investigating Officer), Manish Choudhury (Jimmy Mistri, Editor of Glitz), Vivaan Shah (Tony, Rosie's driver), Siddhartha Basu (Romi Patel, Mayor)
Genre: Crime Drama
Direction: Anurag Kashyap
Produced by: Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane
Production Company: Phantom Films
Written by: Vasan Bala, Gyan Prakash, Anurag Kashyap, S. Thanikachalam
Based on: 'Mumbai Fables' by Gyan Prakash
Cinematographer: Rajeev Ravi
Music: Amit Trivedi
Film Editing by: Prerna Saigal, Thelma Schoonmaker
Distributors : Fox Star Studios
Theatre Release: 15th May, 2015
Duration: 149 minutes
Reviewer's Thumb Mark
Bombay Velvet is surely not a movie for everybody but then it cannot be canned and trashed. Anurag Kashyap's experimentation with a different style of narrative to tell his story backfires as sluggish and phlegmatic. Bombay Velvet generates mixed responses among the viewers - for some, it is painstakingly boring and a weekend ruiner and for some, it is a time to savour a bollywood movie made with a different style.
Ranbir Kapoor as Balraj alias Johnny is effortless and he is here to remain in our mind for sometime as an overambitious small-time criminal with a single goal of being a 'Big Shot'. His rise from petty crimes and his attitude to jump in to the caged boxing ring to defeat 'Jappani' (another street boxer) extends to the ring of elite club of English-spouting scamsters and criminals consisting of Media Barons like Kaizad Kambhatta and Jimmy Mistri (Manish Choudhury), City administrators like Mayor Romi Mehta (Siddhartha Basu) , Politicians and Real estate lobbyists. Balraj is told by Laazar, the smuggler when he picks him from the boxing ring to be part of his smuggling activities that -"There was lot of heart in your fight". And Balraj is seen putting lot of heart in his fight till the end. Balraj rechristened as Johnny is the victim of partition and brought up by a prostitute who he called mother but she too used him for her self-interests.
His childhood friend and partner-in-crime Chimman (Satyadeep Misra) is a show-stealer by his calm yet ruffled demeanor. He is the shadow of the unruly, ruffian -Johnny and constantly warns him to slow down and be happy with what they have in hand. There is a scene where, Khambata asks Johnny, "Ghoda jockey se sauda karenga?" and Johnny responds, " Abh ghoda tai karenga kaunsa jockey baitenga ghode par". Chimman exudes loyalty and trust, but then at the same time displays displeasure and hurt when treated as a second fiddle by his bosom friend Johnny. He feels he is not cared, asked and consulted before doing any act. There is a scene where the shrewd Khambata sense his displeasure and try to influence Chimman to be part of his plot to do away with Johnny. The intensity of Chimman's and Balraj's bonding is depicted in the last scene where Balraj sits with a blood-drenched Chimman on his lap.
Karan Johar as Kaizad Khambata is stylish and suave as a real estate and media baron with dubious intentions. Khambata and Jimmy Mistri, a fierce ambitious newspaper editor are rivals and have their own agendas to fulfill in the making of Bombay the Manhattan of India. Both are found to follow different ideologies - Khambatta is seen calling him a Russian agent and Jimmy calling Khambatta an 'American tout'. But then Anurag fails to justify this accusation in the film and therefore, the viewers are either left to ignore this snide or to wonder that maybe Kashyap wanted to depict the rift between the socialist and the capitalist that existed in the erstwhile Bombay.
Anushka Sharma as Rosie Noronha, a Jazz Singer, plays the character of a sexually abused girl who was trained as a singer by a Portuguese (Remo Fernandes). She has a significant role in the film's plot as a pawn of Jimmy Mistri, a lover, a model out of compulsion for yellow press newspapers, a jazz singer and a lady with so much to hide about her past. Anushka after a high from her NH10 seems a bit misfit in Rosie's character.
Kay Kay Menon, as an investigator has nothing much to offer. He seems to be clueless and hopping here and there after each crime and one wonders why the police fails every time to lay hands on the culprit. It also seems so easy to kill anyone anytime and get away with it. Killing is portrayed as a quick solution to all problems. Unfortunately a talented actor of Kay Kay's caliber is wasted and is left with nothing significant to do in Bombay Velvet.
Amit Trivedi and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya's efforts in creating the music is worth mentioning. The Jazz numbers set the perfect tone for a Jazz bar like Bombay Velvet, where the whole film's plot resides in its belly.
Rajiv Rai's cinematography is commendable for its detailing. Its impressive and lingers.
In short, Bombay Velvet is not a movie that can keep the viewers glued to their seats but one can take the risk to watch it once for its stylish portrayal and visual delight.
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.5/5