Movie Review : Bombay Velvet (2015)

Bombay Velvet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Rating : 3.5/5
Genre : Romantic Thriller
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 30 minutes
Director : Anurag Kashyap
Cast : Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Kaykay Menon, Karan Johar, Satyadeep Misra, Siddharata Basu, Manish Chaudhary, Vivaan Shah
Kidwise Rating: PG-13

Bombay Velvet has been hyped, talked about and much awaited. There’s the very attractive lead pair in retro-mode and the talented director. Anurag Kashyap is known for making offbeat films. You may or may not like them, but you have to admit that he differentiates himself from the rest of the pack. So it is with Bombay Velvet. It is hatke although I can’t confess to liking it too much.

Ranbir Kapoor is “Johnny” Balraj, a small time conman looking to hit the big time. He is noticed by newspaper mogul and schemer of all things shady Kaizad Khambatta (Johar) who sees fit to put this hot-headed, ambitious young man and his good friend Chimman (Misra) to use carrying out various illegal activities. Johnny eventually comes to run the “Bombay Velvet” club for Khambatta, where lady-love Rosie Noronha (Sharma) is also employed as a jazz singer. Johnny however is unsatisfied, gnawing at the leash, and wanting a partnership in Khambatta’s business. Thus starts the trouble.

Bombay Velvet is based on historian Gyan Prakash’s book “Mumbai Fables”, and Prakash is one of the writers on the film. The noir film mixes in drama and real events (like the Bombay land reclamation) with a story of gangsters, their molls and guns – the look and feel of it reminded me of The Godfather. There’s our hero, who is actually a bad guy hand-in-glove with the Bombay Mafia. The story spins around him. It is not an uninteresting story, so it a pity that the film cannot convey that oomph to us.

As much as I like Ranbir Kapoor’s acting chops (e.g.; Barfi), I have to say that he is ill-cast here. Kapoor cannot quite convey Johnny’s intensity or his all-consuming hunger for power – here he looks like an artificially scruffed up pretty boy playing around with a street side accent. It doesn’t help that Johnny’s character doesn’t appear to have very many redeeming qualities. I felt more sympathetic towards Chimman and Rosie, and even Kaizad, than towards Johnny. So I don’t care about the main character and that’s half the battle lost right there.

Also I don’t think the romance part of this “romantic thriller” worked. The chemistry between the lead pair is virtually undetectable, partly because we see that the guy is a violent lout and the girl is much abused. There are scenes where I feel a twinge of pathos for what could have been (for the characters and for the film), and I get what Kashyap might have been going for, but he is unable to intensify the emotion to a point where I would be truly engaged.

Another problem with Bombay Velvet is its slow pacing. This laggardness, and the way the screenplay juxtaposes events, makes the story slightly incoherent, because you sorta lose the thread between cause and effect. The narrative is eventful, but the events seem drawn out, and put on screen with a dumbed down intensity. At 2.5 hours, this film could have done with major editing, to step up the pace and infuse it with some of that frenetic energy that the characters should have been buzzing around with.

On the positive side Kashyap has paid attention to the details; the sets and locales feel authentic. The music, much of which is sung onscreen by Rosie, has a very nice olde worlde feel to it. Anushka did a great job as the Goan songstress, and Satyadeep Misra was a marvel as staunch friend Chimman. Even Karan Johar who makes his acting debut did well as the married homosexual gangster. The other actors were dependable as well.

For all that, Bombay Velvet falls very short of the cult film it should have been. It is a decent watch, but do not go in expecting the moon (as I did).

Kidwise: Some (apparently) passionate kissing. Lots of violence with guns/knives/blood spattering.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, book to film, crime, directors, historical, rating-PG13, romance, thriller | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Tanu Weds Manu Returns (22nd May 2015)

Remember Part 1? I do. And I hope Part 2 is as good if not better.

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Movie Review : Piku (2015)

Piku Ost
Rating : 4.3/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 3 minutes
Director : Shoojit Sircar
Cast : Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Raghuvir Yadav, Jishu Sengupta, Moushumi Chatterjee
Kidwise Rating: PG

Piku was so cute. I loved it. Yes, I was going in with lowered expectations, so it was a nice surprise to actually enjoy it as much as I did.

Deepika Padukone is Piku Banerjee, architect daughter of doddering, constipated intellectual Bhashkor Banerjee (Bachhan), and they live in Chittaranjan Park with trusted servant Budhan. Both father and daughter are quirky, to put it kindly, he more than her. The main topic of discussion in the Banerjee household is the health of Bhashkor’s digestive tract. Daily motion, pun intended, is what Bhashkor aspires to.

Piku struggles to maintain a semblance of a personal life with a cantankerous father on one hand and a busy professional life on the other. Good friend Syed (Sengupta) is almost part of the family. When Piku meets Rana (Khan), a taxi-stand owner, they clash almost immediately. Their “friendship” goes downhill from there.

This film captures the sweetness of the father-daughter relationship without getting too sappy about it. There is a push-and-pull, a constant bickering and frustration galore, but Sircar underscores with a subtle, yet deft hand what Piku and Bhashkor mean to each other. Sircar brings the Bengali milieu to life. From Bhashkor’s liberal outlook on women and marriage, to Piku’s own independent point of view, to Piku’s mashi’s exuberant attitude, it is like Sircar has carved out a giant slice of Bengali-ism and put it out on screen for us. to It doesn’t hurt of course that the setting, the characterizations and the situations exude realistic, often laugh-out-loud humor.

Deepika is phenomenal here. From the deep kohl-ed eyes to the very Bengali “hain”, Deepika IS Piku. Pre-viewing I was a little queasy about Amitabh, because he tends to overact in certain situations. Thankfully that didn’t happen here, and although his accent slipped a couple of times, he was a treat to watch. Then there’s Magnificent Irrfan, able to go from heated disagreement to soft humor so beautifully. We also have the pleasure of seeing the lovely Moushumi Chatterjee portray Piku’s mashi, and veteran actor Raghuvir Yadav Bhashkor’s old-time doctor friend.

It is true that this film revolves around talk of “motion” – and in specifics: color, consistency, the works. You’d think that one would tire of such a film. After all how long can someone take all this talk of shit? Quite a while, I tell you. Because in between all that droning on about bowel movements Shoojit Sircar manages, amazingly, to tell us a nice little story of the ties that bind and keep us close. That tagline of “motion se hi emotion”? Spot on. In more ways that one.

Kidwise: Some talk of sex, virgins :-) and marital relationships. Note that is talk only, very little of it, in passing. On the whole this film is pretty family-friendly.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, drama, family-friendly, feel-good, humor, quirky, rating-PG, recommended, romance | 2 Comments

Movie Preview : Bombay Velvet (May 15th 2015)

Here it comes! I can barely wait.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, crime, directors, drama, Previews | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)

Dum Laga Ke Haisha Hindi Blu Ray (Bollywood/ Cinema/ Movie/2015 Film)
Rating : 4/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 1 hour 51 minutes
Director : Sharat Katariya
Cast : Ayushman Khurana, Bhumi Pednekar, Seema Pahwa, Sheeba Chaddha, Sanjay Mishra
Kidwise Rating: PG

Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a quiet note of melody amid the cacophony that is Hindi commercial cinema, especially coming from the creators of much of that cacophony – Yash Raj Films. It gladdens the heart.

Prem is your average 10th class fail, assisting his father in running a musty tape recording shop in Haridwar. When the parental unit insists on him marrying plump Sandhya, Prem’s objections to marrying a “saand” (literally a bull) are firmly quelled. The marriage happens, but never did we meet such an unhappy twosome.

There is much to like in this film. It is a strong story, with well-defined characters, and actors who fit right into those characters. Sanjay Mishra and Seema Pahwa, whom we also saw in Aankhon Dekhi, play out similar characters as in that film, only this time they aren’t married to each other. Mishra is Prem’s father Chandrabhan Tiwari and Pahwa, Sandhya’s mother Subhadra Rani. Ayushmann Khurana as Prem is marvelous. I couldn’t have imagined city-bred MTV VJ Ayushmann capable of this, but he does a wonderful job as small-town Prem, mannerisms, body language and all. Bhumi Pednekar though, is the find of the film with her gorgeous portrayal of Sandhya. Although her body type won’t let her fit into the traditionally slim-trim Bollywood heroine mould I look forward to seeing this accomplished actress in a lot more films.

Haisha is probably a low-budget film, but crafted with such care and attention to detail – that’s half the battle won, right there. This is situated in small-town UP, and the home (situated on the banks of the Ganga), the clothing, the dialect and the accents are spot-on. The many family members live in a small, courtyard-ish home, where every creak of the marital bed and every phone conversation is overheard. There are several amusing quirks which build up a realistic picture of small-town life and also help in fleshing out the characters – Prem belongs to a “Shakha”, an RSS-style set of young men who engage in various “character-building” exercises . Then there is his Bua, Naintara, (played by the elusive but magnificent Sheeba Chaddha) who although married lives with them. Sandhya’s voluble younger brother also adds interest to the proceedings.

Dum Lage Ke Haisha is a well-put-together package. The music is a strong, although unobtrusive part of the film. The one song I do remember is the gorgeous “Yeh Moh Moh ke Dhaage” which plays in refrains throughout the film. Haisha is such a sweet little charming film, and it works because of the likable lead characters and the strong feel-good factor.

Kidwise: There are a couple of lip-locks but so naturally and unassumingly done, that I doubt they’ll wound any sensibilities. Also some talk of consummation/wedding night, but nothing obscene or vulgar.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, drama, family-friendly, feel-good, quirky, rating-PG | 1 Comment

Movie Preview : Piku (8th May 2015)

From the trailer this looks like Finding Fanny Part 2. This film is a remake of Satyajit Ray’s 1980 original. Deepika is Piku, and Amitabh is her cantankerous old dad. And this film is about (no points for guessing) their relationship. Irrfan Khan appears in what could possibly be his first full-fledged mainstream romantic lead role, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the lovely Moushumi Chatterjee on-screen again – from her we’ll get some authentic Bengali; Amitabh’s is making me cringe.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, Previews, quirky | 1 Comment

Movie Preview : Gabbar is Back (releases 1st May 2015)

A little heavy handed for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali production, here is your next star-studded commercial film:

Posted in 2015, bollywood, Previews | Leave a comment