The godfather of new Indian cinema rings his own death bell through his biggest disaster in the recently released Bombay Velvet. Expectations were of course running sky high. With the father of ‘neo-alternative’ (Anurag Kashyap) having his first tryst with the heartthrob of ‘neo-Bollywood’ Ranbir Kapoor. And when you look up to such idols with high hopes and the expectations come crashing down one is left with nothing but despair.
Bombay Velvet plays its role in being a tribute to clichés to its fullest. A wannabe distraught young man in Ranbir aka Johnny Balraj wants to be a ‘bara admi’ (Big Shot) and has no qualms about attaining his goal. Of course he has to meet the powerful and rising of Bombay of immediate post independent era. He rises in his position being fed by the gang of notoriously powerful people who are about to write the new geography and economy of the city BOMBAY. The glitz and the glamour get represented by Jazz and the Jazz singer Rosie Norona (Anushka Sharma). Of course Balraj has to fall in love with Norona so much so that he can give everything up to fulfill his emotions of love and die as a martyr in the quagmire of the dirty underworld and the, the then upwardly mobile power brokers who shaped Bombay of then. The story line being so utterly simple and colorless you fail to get entertained at all in spite of all the glitz and glam which comes not only through Ranbir and Anushka but also through Karan Johar (in a pivotal role of a power broker).
It is not that Anurag is working with direct influences from world of cinema for the first time. In his Gangs of Wasseypur, nobody misses the Corleones and nobody misses the black humor of violence aka Tarantino. But Wasseypur were his better days of tryst with cinema. Its quirkiness and humor were slated to the true pitch of the land where he was dealing his stories with. Simply, the local colors, ethos and his purposefully drawn up ‘not so seem less’ story telling was successful in creating the peculiar ‘un-nerviness’ and almost epic presentation of ‘violence’ and ‘dark side of humanity’. When you are convinced about the world you are operating within you feel comfortably to get influenced by the stories and images of cinema of the world. And that’s where “Gangs of Wasseypur” went successful in spite of hovering around the mythical storylines of cinema that has already taken the world by storm.
Cut to Jazz and Tommy Guns and the maverick hero depicting his passion for violence and love. You land in a ‘Gangs of Bombay’ with a ‘Velvet Bouquet of Hollywood Clichés’. It’s swanky and slick, so much so that it could have been any director of Bollywood and not Anurag himself. And the film is a roller coaster ride where nothing strikes a chord with the viewers. You only recall Hollywood and failure of craft to put up a story aka Hollywood. Anurag had to put all the clichés of Hollywood gangster films especially the 40’s set-ups. And mind you this comes without any stylistics typical of Anurag. There is no humor (black or grey), no quirkiness, no emotional high, no cinematic moment and of course no ‘jumpy-ness’ in story telling so typical of him till some time back. A straight movement of an erroneously fast paced story telling drives the film straight to a black hole.
The director was obviously catering to the needs of the ‘big film’ shredding all his ‘Anurag-ness’ for what he is so coveted for. For the time being his quirkiness and sense of humor takes a back seat and a straight on the face Ranbir Kapoor (he is literally so all along the film with his up and frontal presence in all frames) with Tommy Guns and Swing of 40’s and 50’s. So, when in the post debacle justification speech via social media, Anurag says that this is the film that he wanted to make, one is bound to feel his desperation for the ‘ROSIE’ and not ‘CINEMA’. He also makes a whimper in the same communication that ‘I WILL BE BACK’ aka ‘Schwarzenegger’. We would really like to see Anurag back with his own wit and stylistics. And can somebody warn him that he is again looking for inspirations. This time let it be a good influence compared to an over saturated photocopy of Hollywood gangster movies.
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