Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Flying Unicorn Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Bombay Talkies (UA) is a film made as a celebration of 100 years of Indian Cinema. It is actually a film consisting of four short films made by four different directors, each standing alone and with no connection with the other three.
The film begins with Karan Johar’s short film, followed by Dibakar Banerjee’s. The post-interval portion has two short films – one by Zoya Akhtar, and the last by Anurag Kashyap.
Karan Johar’s film is about the relationship between a married couple, Gayatri and Dev (Rani Mukerji and Randeep Hooda). Both are working people and seem to be happy in their respective work spaces. Their married life gets a jolt when Avinash (Saqib Saleem) joins as an assistant to Gayatri in her team. One day, Avinash tells Gayatri that her husband is gay. Obviously, all hell breaks loose in the lives of Gayatri and Dev. What happens thereafter?
Karan Johar’s story and screenplay are both, interesting and bold but, by their very nature, would not appeal to the orthodox audience. The youngsters, however, will like the shock value in the drama. The old film songs have been wonderfully used and they further the drama beautifully. Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues are very effective.
Rani Mukerji lives the role of Gayatri and is supremely natural. She looks like a million bucks. Randeep Hooda is fairly nice. Saqib Saleem is quite good. Alisha Shaikh is alright as the beggar girl. Shiv Subramaniam and Pravina Deshpande pass muster as Avinash’s parents. Vishal Bhonsle is okay as the guy in Gayatri’s office.
Karan Johar’s direction has his masterly touches. He handles the subject with the sensitivity it deserves. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is razor-sharp and deserves distinction marks. Vishal-Shekhar’s music and Hitesh Sonik’s background score are nice. Anil Mehta’s camerawork is superb. Surbhi Laddha’s sets go very well with the mood of the film.
Dibakar Banerjee’s short film is based on Satyajit Ray’s short story, Potol Babu Filmstar. It is about a common man’s two minutes of fame when he is asked to face the movie camera with a top star. Dibakar’s screenplay is more on the philosophical side and, therefore, has limited appeal. Also, the drama moves at a slow pace.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui does a fantastic job and lives his role. Others have brief roles which are not too consequential. Shubhangi Bhujbal, Sanskriti Ghosh, Sarah Hashmi, Kartik Krishnan, Suhas Sirsat, Sunil Kumar, Irfan Shaikh and Ravi Shetty lend fair support. Reema Kagti makes a voice appearance only.
Dibakar Banerjee’s direction, like his script, caters to a thin section of the audience only. Nikos Andritsakis’ camerawork is very good. Music (Dibakar Banerjee) is average. Samreen Farooqui and Shabani Hassanwalia’s editing is okay.
Zoya Akhtar’s story is about a little boy, Vicky (master Naman Jain), whose father (Ranveer Shorey), wants him to learn to play football. However, Vicky is obsessed with dancing in general and dancing like Katrina Kaif in particular. He decides to pursue his dream of becoming a dancer when he sees a television interview of Katrina Kaif in which she says that if one has faith in oneself and if one follows one’s dream, success would be his. Vicky has an elder sister, Kavya (baby Khushi Dubey), who sympathises with him even as his father ridicules him. What happens thereafter?
Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s script about following one’s dreams is exhilarating. The pains taken by Vicky to help his sister are heart-warming.
Master Naman Jain does a fine job. Baby Khushi Dubey is also good. Ranvir Shorey is effective. Swati Das, as Vicky’s mother, lends able support. Katrina Kaif adds tremendous star value in a friendly appearance. Cyrus Sahukar (as the television host), Nirvan Shah (as the football coach), Shoma Kaikini (as the Kathak teacher) and the rest lend average support.
Zoya Akhtar’s direction is nice. Kiran Giri’s choreography is appealing. Dhara Jain’s sets are alright. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Tubby’s background music is okay.
Anurag Kashyap’s film is about the extent to which fans can worship their idols. Vijay (Vineet Kumar Singh), living in a small town, is sent by his ailing father (Sudhir Pande) to Bombay to meet Amitabh Bachchan whom he (father) idolises. The father sends some murrabba (sweet pickle) for Bachchan and wants Vijay to tell Amitabh Bachchan to eat part of the murabba. The father feels that he would stay in good health by eating the remaining murabba because of his idol’s touch. Vijay reaches Amitabh’s bungalow in Bombay but has to face a lot of hardships before the superstar eats the murabba. As bad luck would have it, the glass container holding the balance murabba breaks on the return journey. What does Vijay do? Does he tell his ailing father about the remaining murabba?
Anurag Kashyap’s script about hero worship has its funny moments and serious ones too. The drama also has a couple of emotional scenes which would bring a lump in people’s throats.
Vineet Kumar Singh does a lovely job. Sudhir Pande is good. Virendra Giri (as the Bachchan look-alike), Imran Rasheed and Vinod Gamre (both as watchmen outside Amitabh’s bungalow) and Istayak Arif Khan (as the bhurji stall owner) provide very good support. Paromita Chatterjee (as Vijay’s mother), Sanjeev Wilson (as the taxi driver), Abhishek Banerjee (as the man at the bhurji stall), Sandeep Verma (as the man with Amitabh Bachchan cycle), Raju Gowda (as Bachchan’s security man) and Hemant Mishra (as the evil man on the train) lend fair support. Amitabh Bachchan makes a special appearance in his inimitable style.
Anurag Kashyap’s direction is good. Songs (Amit Trivedi) could have been better although the ‘Bachchan’ song is quite alright. Rajeev Ravi’s cinematography is appropriate. Editing (by Anupama Chabukswar) is fair.
The four stories are rounded off by a song featuring many top stars. Although the song (composed by Amit Trivedi) is not a hit number, the sheer thrill of watching so many top stars sharing screen space is immense.
Since the audience is not used to watching short films in a feature film, the commercial potential of the film is very limited. To make matters ‘worse’ for the audience, the four stories are independent and there is not even a common thread running through them. On the plus side, however, are the novelty factor and the names of four popular directors associated with the film.
On the whole, Bombay Talkies is an experimental film with very limited box-office appeal, that too, for the multiplex audience in some big cities only.