Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bombay Talkies: Peddling Bollywood

When Bombay Talkies released last year, I had a very strong urge to watch it. It sounded very promising. But I don't know how I forgot all about the movie later on and remembered about it only last week when I got hold of its DVD. It was alluring to watch four short movies directed by very strong directors of Hindi cinema- Karan Johar, Dibakar Banarjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap made for commemorating 100th anniversary of Indian cinema. Backdrop of all the shorts is Indian infatuation on cinema. Movies are life for most of us, providing rhythm and symphony for a monotonous existence. I thought I would just write a quick note on the four movies that are thankfully not interconnected in anyway.  

The first movie by Karan Johar is for me, the best one among the lot. I never expected I would give such a statement when another movie in the anthology is directed by Anurag Kashyap. But credit should go to Johar for making a deeply sincere, intellectually engaging, emotionally exploring piece, with a magical background of old Hindi songs. It is about a disturbed husband who comes out of the closet, thanks to the gay friend of his wife. Unlike others, this is the only movie that doesn’t overtly depend on a filmy setting to convey its point. It is not on the face too.

The second one by Dibakar Banarjee is about a failed ‘business man’ who discovers the genius actor inside him who wants to get out, when he unexpectedly gets a chance to act in a bit part in a Ranbir Kapoor movie. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the lead actor on whom the burden of conveying the entire plot is bestowed. He delivers in style. Watching him act is a pleasure. He makes us a part of him when he goes through the conflicts his character undergoes. Each shot is an underlined statement about his talent.

Third short by Zoya Akhtar reminded me of the half an hour TV advertisements of Tele-brands and such companies. I feel it contains just shameless peddling of Bollywood. It shows a very shallow and regressive picture far from reality, which can be potentially dangerous. Using kids for this purpose makes it all the more deplorable.  I am confused which is more ridiculous- deifying Katrina Kaif or trying to find motivation from item songs. A boy, whose father wants him to be an athlete, trying to put on his sister’s dress and dancing to Sheila Ki Jawani song, looks as ridiculous as it sounds here. It is a tragedy as the movie was well shot and the actors, especially the kids had done some great work.

Anurag Kashyap’s work too started off the same way and I had a bad feeling about it. But with the comic ending he succeeded in spinning it to something better. This short is about a villager camping infront of Amitabh Bachchan’s home so that he can offer him the Murabba send by his ailing father, who thinks eating the Murabba that is half-eaten by the superstar can increase his survival chance.  Anurag tries to show off the Bachchan euphoria and his larger than life image. There was scope of some serious introspection, but nothing materializes, finally making it another try to glorify Bollywood and its effects on society. The humor laced narrative and some superb acting saves the movie from becoming propaganda material for Bollywood.

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