Monthly Archives: May 2015

Review : Bombay Velvet

Long before Anurag Kashyap became the cult hero that is today, I have been supporting and defending him.

I watched Paanch around 2007, and it was the same year that my ex girlfriend mentioned that she wanted to watch Black Friday. It was a phase when I would watch Shah Rukh Khan movies, and I scoffed at her poor taste in cinema.

Black Friday changed the way I looked at cinema. It was the first film that shook me in the real sense. Ever since, I have defended Anurag Kashyap in debates and discussions. I loved No Smoking, though I’m still yet to put a finger on why. I watched Gulaal twice, and felt a strange pride when the four others in the hall applauded at the end.

Somewhere along the line, DevD released. Though it was clearly not his best work, it shot him into pop-culture hero-dom. Anurag Kashyap today is the face of the indie movement, he is the voice of freedom of expression in films, and seems like a sane voice who is finally getting his due. For millions of viewers, Anurag Kashyap is a ray of hope in a tunnel that is filled with shit every Friday.

And so when Bombay Velvet released, and got panned by everybody, I wanted to go watch the movie.

I wanted to like the movie, and write a passionate blog about how everybody else who didn’t like it were basically idiots.

I wanted to like Bombay Velvet. But like the prettiest girl in class, Bombay Velvet didn’t give a flying fuck about me. Bombay Velvet is so caught up in its own trip, in being pretty and trippy and grand and epic, that I had no other option.

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bombay velvet

For a film that has four writers, two editors, and three accomplished directors as producers, Bombay Velvet fails on so many levels, you are reduced to tears as an earnest fan.

Sample this. Ranbir Kapoor doesn’t get a single line till 25 minutes into the movie, and Anushka Sharma 40 minutes into the film. I understand that these are creative calls that the director takes, but how am I supposed to empathise with the leads when I feel nothing for them?

And Anurag Kashyap has consistently given us characters that we fell in love with. Whether it is Baba Bangaali in No Smoking, or the spectacular Nagma Khatoon in Gangs of Wasseypur, or Ransa Singh in Gulaal, Anurag Kashyap has a knack of creating stellar characters.

The leads in Bombay Velvet seem too caught up in their own trips. It’s as if they realized that this is their moment. That they’ve left behind the world of Yash Raj and have broken into the indie scene. And that’s enough.

*

Bombay Velvet is utterly disappointing. Not because it fails as a film. But because it pays you no respect as a viewer. You could plug in and listen to your favourite song for all the film cared.

The film is plagued with lazy writing, sloppy editing, and doesn’t give a fuck about you as a viewer.

And that is very hard to come to terms with.

I am waiting for Anurag Kashyap’s next film. I know it will be better.

Anything will be better than Bombay Velvet.

Movie Review – Piku

Personally, I have never been a huge fan of Amitabh Bachchan.

I couldn’t connect with his 70s ‘Angry Young Man’ image. I have watched Zanjeer, Kaalia, Deewar, and Don, and thought he was terrific in them. But ever since I have started actively following films, Amitabh Bachchan was just a caricature.

He would do the same role – the powerful patriarch with the powerful voice – over and over again. Every single director who signed him would give him a different version of the same role.

Black was a shitty film with terrible acting. Sarkar was just RGV fusing his AB and Godfather fetishes into one dimly lit movie. Baghban made me want to pull my hair out in frustration, and then reach for my neighbour’s.

Piku, surprisingly, does away with the AB frills.

In a film that stars tall actors, Amitabh Bachchan towers over the others in every way possible. Given a role by director Shoojit Sircar that lets him stretch his hands out and have fun, Amitabh Bachchan slips into his character and stubbornly refuses to step out of it.

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piku

Piku talks about parents, but chooses a path that no other film earlier has dealt with.

We have been shown films where parents are sacrificing, idealistic, loving and caring. But no film has ever touched upon one important aspect of Indian parents – that they are stubborn. That they refuse to budge from their standpoint, even if times around them have changed, even if their children are a different generation.

Our scriptures expect us to respect our parents just because they are parents. Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava – we are told. I have always been baffled by this idea. Anybody can marry and have kids. It requires no special skills. How then does the simple act of reproducing elevate you to the level of a God?

There is no nice way to put this. But Indian parents are selfish.

And Piku brings this point out beautifully.

I will leave out the details so that you can go watch it (if you haven’t already), but let it suffice to say that director Shoojit Sircar finally paints a realistic picture of Indian households. And the transitional pains we face on a daily basis. The wide chasm between age old morals and the hustle-bustle of the modern world and its demands.

Deepika Padukone barely puts a foot wrong. Surprisingly, Irrfan Khan seems like the weak link in the film. His newly found English accent is a little difficult to come to terms with, especially since he speaks his Hindi lines in the same old Vodafone Chhota Recharge kar lo voice. And his English lines (A’right) seem a little forced.

Minor hiccups if you aren’t a picky viewer, because Irrfan Khan does more with his eyes than his voice. Moushumi Chatterjee is spot on as the party-popping Bengali aunt, as are Raghubir Yadav as the doctor who attends to AB’s idiosyncrasies.

But finally, Piku belongs to a 70 year old man. A 70 year old man who has finally found a reason to stretch his hands out and have fun.

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