It was May 3, 1913 when Dadasaheb Phalke's Raja Harishchandra was released. A 100 years later we have been through so much and come to a point where so much has been done and there is still so much to do.
Bombay Talkies is a kind of tribute that has only one connection, it is about people who are affected by films, by music, by their actors, by dance and by acting. Apart from this one fine line, there is nothing similar or connecting these stories and thats a great thing.
We have four directors telling four stories, this kind of experiment was done long back in Hollywood, where Scorsese, Coppola and Woody Allen came together and made their NEW YORK STORIES and now in India, we have BOMBAY TALKIES.
Now, let me begin with each story
We have the Indian Version of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and Karan stuck to the safe zone and made what he is good at making. I always had a problem with this guy and even in this, he cannot show us anything different apart from the obvious. He has never risen above the script as a director and sticks to his ground so very firmly that it may ache others who have watched his films. He seemed to be a complete misfit in the lot as others have surely done some brave films while he stuck to films that are typical for Indian diaspora. But here, we have a Karan who can also make a hard hitting film and showing us a very taboo issue in the face devoid of the very typical Karan Johar trappings. Simply, we have a different Karan whom I did not see before. In this segment, we have great acting from Rani and Saqib Salim as Avinash and that little girl who sung those Madan Mohan songs of "Lag Jaa Gale" and "Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh" so beautifully that I have fallen in love with this girl.
As a story it's hard hitting coz it's rarer to such thing in the milieu that we have grown and Gay is still a taboo issue to our society and this is unveiled in a brave way by Karan and just kudos for his bravery and even the outcome. So that's a story that has Hindi Film Music as an underlying theme.
His story, inspired from a Satyajit Ray short story (I read about this inspiration in other reviews after I watched this movie) of how an encounter with a superstar changes his day and brings back hope to a man.
Nawazuddin Siddique brings life to a mundane character. In fact Nawaz brings more than life to this character and makes him the hero in us, the hero we root for. A passion so exuberantly portrayed that we rarely find such infectious enthusiasm on the screen. Nawaz, I must say is infectious and I am having a fresh memory of the innuendos he did. From repeating famous lines from the old films in preparation to just a single letter word dialogue to feeding his turkey. He does every small nuance well and it's a performance that's flawless. There is a long shot amidst big buildings where he repeats those lines and I loved Dibakar's vision of that. Dibakar avoided close ups and gave me a real life personality. And more, this has a surrealism too and there is a surprise package there. It's an epiphany that I loved so much and wished it was longer and longer.
This is the most personal, relatable and my favourite story of the lot and am so happy for what Dibakar did. Also, a big thanks to Nawaz. This a short film with acting as it's underlying theme.
I can say, that is either inspired from BILLY ELLIOT even if ZOYA AKHTAR denies so. This is a story of a kid, who wants to become a Bollywood dancer, that's OK. But, this boy, wants to become Sheila of Sheila Ki Jawani. Ah, that's kind of weird and there in lies the beauty of the film. It's OK to chase a dream however weird it is as long as one pursues it. Also, it's OK to hide a dream from those who are uninterested in one. And who said, dreams do not payback, they surely do and therein lies the essence of life. Living a dream is tough, we have to overcome too many obstacles and living a weird is next to impossible. But, when there is a will, there is way and that's what this short film clearly shows.
Naman Jain as 12 year old kid rises above and becomes a hero for his sister and I love the way he danced to Sheila Ki Jawani. Also, Katrina Kaif plays a cameo, how much ever one may debate about he acting prowess, she is indeed beautiful. This is a fine short film that reminded me of going for a dream is worth than living a mundane average life. Dance, is the inspiration for this and in a great way.
IF every one got some good actors or even superb actors, this film stars Amitabh Bachhan, the quintessential hero, the superstar himself. Anurag indeed has bagged the most important actor of the century for this. Yet, the protagonist is not Bachhan but a "Murabba" which is just tasted by Bachhan. It's the story of a fan who comes all the way from Benaras to Bombay just to give Bachhan, a bit of his moms Murabba as per his fathers wishes. He struggles, waits, hopes and finally achieves. Vineet Kumar as Vijay seemed so very fluent on screen. This one has subtle humour and it's in a way good coz that helps a lot to this nearly routine kind of fable. The climax comes with twist and indeed a moral that Murabba should never be kept in the bottle used for pickles. Wow, Anurag does have a sense of humour thats so very native to us. I can say this is Indian Humour at its best.
I liked the story, but though others were a bit better shown. The music too played a bigger role in this as there were couple of original numbers and they went well. This is the story of the magic of cinema and the magic of stars.
Now, I am going with 4/5 for one of the finest amalgamation or compilation I have seen of short films.
Having said that this is not for the general cinema audience who goes for nothing but some masala and entertainment. It's for the aficionados and connoisseurs It's not provocative either but yes evocative in a way. It's not deeply affecting but it will move a few chords in heart for sure. Go watch it.