Movie: Bombay Talkies

Director: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Rani Mukerji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Naman Jain, Khushi Dubey, Vineet Kumar Singh, Sudhir Pandey and Amitabh Bachchan

Jagran Rating: Good

Story Line: A girl on a railway station who croons Lata Mangeshkar songs with aching luminosity, a stoic gluttonous ostrich, a flirty cocky gay entertainment journalist, a closet actor, a little boy who likes to dance like Katrina Kaif and a man from Allahabad who just wants to meet Amitabh Bachchan for a few seconds ... such are the engrossing characters that populate the unforgettable world of "Bombay Talkies".

"Bombay Talkies" is that rarity, which makes us thankful for the gift of the movies.

Four stories directed by four contemporary Bollywood directors emerge and merge with seamless splendour into a pastiche of pain and pleasure. Like four scoops of ice cream, one yummier than the other, "Bombay Talkies" serves up a flavourful quartet of delights that leave us craving for more.

The first story which is directed by Karan Johar where a sterile marriage between an urban working-couple played by Rani Mukerji and Randeep Hooda is shaken by the arrival of young ebullient homosexual who enters their frozen marriage in a most unexpected way.

This story pushes Indian cinema to the edge to explore a theme and emotions that have so far been swept under the carpet. Karan, whose most brilliant film "My Name Is Khan", was also about a marginalised community, strips the urban relationship of all its shock value.

The second story by Dibakar Bannerjee features Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a failed actor. Dibakar is a master-creator of vignettes from everyday life. In the movie, his detailing of ‘life in a chawl’ is unerring.

Ebullient and enchanting are the descriptions that come to mind while watching Zoya Akhtar's film about a little boy (Naman Jain, brilliant) who would rather dance to Katrina Kaif's song than become a cricketer or a pilot, as per the wishes of his tyrant papa (Ranveer Shorey).

The household brims over with song, dance and giggles between the Katrina-enamored boy and his sibling and confidante (a very confident Khushi Dubey). Charming warm humorous and vivacious Zoya's film serves up a very gentle moral lesson. Let a child grow the way he wants to. Zoya's film makes our hearts acquire wings. And yes, it immortalises Katrina Kaif.

Finally, Anurag Kashyap's homage to the unmatchable stardom of Amitabh Bachchan. A simple tale of a man, who journeys from Allahabad to meet Bachchan. This segment is more baggy and loose-limbed than the other three tightly-edited stories. This is not to take away from its power. As played by Vineet Kumar Singh, the common man's devotion to the Bachchan aura is manifested in the tongue-in-cheek spoken lines and the casual energy of Mumbai's street life.

Thumbs Up: Karan Johar is able to nail the poignancy and the irony of his urban fable in just four-five key scenes. This is his best work to date. Rani delivers another power-packed performance. It is Saqib Saleem who steals this segment with his unmitigated spontaneity and reined-in ebullience. The sequence where Nawaz  Siddiqui washes clothes with the chawl's women is savagely funny and poignant. Nawaz in Dibakar's deft hands, takes his character through a journey of profoundly saddening self-discovery without any hint of self-pity. This segment is quirky funny and tragic.

"Bombay Talkies" is segmented and layered, yet cohesive and compelling from the first frame to the last.

While unravelling the magic of cinema and its impact on the minds of audiences, "Bombay Talkies" also displays how much cinema has evolved over the generations.

Thumbs Down: In Anurag’s story, he captures the bustle around the Bachchan bungalow with warmth and affection. The segment certainly doesn't lack in warmth. But he could have done with a tighter grip over the narrative. Besides, we are unable to find any bloopers in this fantastic movie.

This is a beguiling, beautiful and befitting homage to 100 years of Indian cinema. It's also proof that different stories in an episodic film could comfortably have directors with different sensitivities staring in the same line of vision.


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