The Front Row review of Bombay Talkies
Bombay Talkies begins with a young man pushing his father against a wall and angrily declaring that he is a homosexual and not a eunuch. From that moment on, you know that this isn’t going to be your regular Hindi movie. The anthology of four short films by Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap and Zoya Akhtar is a celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema. But this is no vacuous, song and dance party. It’s an evocative, lyrical, wrenching essay on our love affair with the movies.
I’ve long maintained that in India, movies aren’t merely entertainment. They are a religion. The four shorts in Bombay Talkies depict how much movies punctuate and permeate our lives; how a film song becomes a melancholy lament for a life half-lived; how an accidental brush with showbiz brightens ordinary lives; how stars consume us and fill us with magic.
There is laughter here but also, a deep sadness. The strongest film is Dibakar’s adaptation of a short story by Satyajit Ray. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a failed actor who strays into a film shoot. Dibakar narrates his story with such tenderness and control and Siddiqui is so good that by the end, I was wiping away tears. Karan Johar also steps out of his comfort zone with a brave, quietly heart-breaking story about a couple and the exuberant gay man who enters their lives. The actors, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem and especially Rani Mukerji are terrific.
Post-interval, Bombay Talkies drops a few notches. The shorts by Zoya and Anurag don’t have the same power or complexity. Anurag’s lead actor – Vineet Kumar – is very good but the story is slim and feels stretched. Though it’s interesting to see what Zoya does with a little boy whose most ardent desire is to be Sheila from Sheila ki Jawani. Usually a child dancing to an item song is deeply uncomfortable but here it becomes an anthem for joy and freedom. Bombay Talkies ends with its own item song, which brings together a roster of stars. It’s a curiously tacky number. The song itself is distinctly forgettable. It breaks the mood of the film. And yet, I enjoyed it. Because it ends the film on a necessary note of celebration. And because, finally, we are all suckers for stars.
Bombay Talkies is a unique experiment that works very well. I’m going with four stars. The collaboration between four leading directors also suggests a confidence and maturity that was rare to find in the industry even a decade ago. I believe that things can only get better from here.
100 / 101 years of Indian Cinema…
Today marks the Hundredth Anniversary of Indian Cinema marking 100 years from the release of ‘Raja Harishchandra’ which had its official premier show in Coronation Theater in Bombay on 3rd May 1913.
The film was directed by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, who is considered as Father of Indian Cinema.
Ram Chandra Gopal Torne was the first Indian to make an Indian-language feature film, as established by an advertisement in The Times of India of 25 May 1912.
He is also considered the “Father of Indian cinema”
Although Torne made his first film (Shree pundalik पुंडलिक, 1912) just under a year before Dhundiraj Govind Phalke made his, it is the latter who is regarded as the father of Indian cinema popularly.
The ‘Dadasaheb’ confusion…..
But the Confusion arises why Phalke and Torne are saluted with “Dadasaheb” and Ram Chandra Gopal Torne is forgotten?
Even more interestingly….
Both the films premiered at CORONATION CINEMATOGRAPH, Giraum, Bombay.
But for me personally… what’s disappointing was that there’s no Google Doodle celebrating the occasion of 100th aniversary of Indian Cinema…
..when there is one marking the 92nd birth anniversary of Satyajit Ray, just yesterday?
Google Doodle honours Satyajit Ray
“Ray’s film art was profoundly influenced by this early experience with graphic art. During his filmmaking days, the designer in him played a vital role. He sketched the scenes of his films like Eisenstein or Hitchcock, but he did it more out of budget constraints but the artist in him also craved to create the perfect frames before shooting. Ray always produced something out of nothing which according to Aristotle is the principle behind the creation of the universe. And Ray left us a rich legacy of artistic creations that became timeless.”
Interesting reads today.. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0041003/bio