“A classic love story set in the city of Mumbai” is the essence of the Bollywood movie titled “Bombay Velvet” directed by Anurag Kashyap. Based on the book “Mumbai Fables” written by Gyan Prakash, this movie is a quintessential Bollywood romantic movie with the metamorphosis that the city underwent during the 1950 and 60’s serving as the background. And so, here is presenting an analysis explaining why this movie based on “maximum city” is a decent watch.
a. The story/screenplay/editing of Bombay Velvet:
The story of this movie revolves around two characters a street fighter Johnny Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) and Rosie Noronha (Anushka Sharma) a jazz singer. It all begins when Johnny comes to the city of Mumbai post-independence with dreams of (in his words) becoming a “big shot”. It is while attempting a robbery with his friend Chimman (Satyadeep Misra) that he meets a rich Parsi businessman Kaizad Khambata (Karan Johar). Impressed by Johnny’s hunger to be successful Kaizad appoints him as a manager to his club named “Bombay Velvet”. In the meanwhile, Johnny manages to fall in love with Jazz singer Rosie Noronha. Now, a newspaper editor named Jimmy Mistry (Manish Choudhary) wants to get even with Khambatta, and hence sends Rosie to Johnny since he knows that Balraj has a crush on her. Now, as the two spend time with each other they begin to fall deeply in love with each other. However, along with falling in love Johnny’s ambition also grows resulting in him becoming a serious threat to Khambatta. The rest of the plot deals with how Johnny deals with the powerful forces lurking in the city wanting to bring him down.
The screenplay written by Vasan Bala, Gyan Prakash, Anurag Kashyap, and S Thanikachalam is average to say the least. The problem mainly being that the writers tried to combine a fictional love story with the content of the book Mumbai Fables. In fact, the story and screenplay would have worked better if the ambition of Johnny was given priority, while the romance played an incidental role only. The editing done by Prerna Saigal and Thelma Schoonmaker (the editor of Scorscese movies) is unfortunately also shoddy with a few scenes appearing to have been cut abruptly thereby ruining the narrative.
b. The “performances” of the star cast of Bombay Velvet:
The performances of the star cast of this movie can be termed as “decent”. The protagonists Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma as Johnny and Noronha are extremely sincere in their performance. Supporting cast that includes Manish Chowdhary, Kay Kay Menon, and Siddharth Basu are good in what can be termed as small yet key roles. However, the casting of Karan Johar as Kaizad Khambatta the antagonist does not work, since the actor is unable to bring to life the necessary “ruthless capitalistic streak” that the role requires. It must be added, that the miscasting of Khambatta character is one of the reasons why this movie does not work with the audience as it could have.
c. The “cinematography”, “production design”, “music”, and “direction” of Bombay Velvet:
“Magnificently opulent” would be the best way to describe sets of old Bombay created in Sri Lanka by the production design department led by Shaira Kapoor, Errol Kelly, Sonal Sawant, and Sameer Sawant. It is the accurately and brilliantly created sets that bring to life the classic love story set in Bombay in the 1950’s and 60’s. In addition, beautiful cinematography by Rajiv Ravi helps add more charm to the opulent set, and thereby brings to life the story. Furthermore, the music (songs and background score) composed by Amit Trivedi is truly brilliant. Of note, is the manner in which he has composed typical Jazz music, which was popular in the city of Bombay during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
As for the direction of Anurag Kashyap, it can be confidently stated (having seen his earlier work) that this is not his best movie. Even though he does manage to create beautiful opulent sets, wonderful music, and good cinematography, it is not enough. The reason for his failure being that for once in his career this talented and courageous director has failed in producing great content in the form of a coherent story and screenplay. Overall, it would be fair to say that the direction provided by Kashyap for this movie is just about average.
Having watched this movie on the first day itself, I can confidently state that, if you intend to see Bombay as it was during the 1950’s and 60’s when “Jazz” music played a major part in its culture then Bombay Velvet is the Bollywood movie that you must watch.