Bombay Talkies – A Review

By on May 22, 2013
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Bombay Talkies venerates 100 years of Indian cinema in a mature fashion without being splashy or going overboard. Four of the finest directors of the present generation – Karan Johar, Dibakar Bannerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap have come together in a unique movie with four stories that celebrates the intricate relationship between the Indian psyche and cinema.

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 In Bombay Talkies, Karan Johar’s depiction of an urban married couple – Rani Mukherjee and Randeep Hooda is dark and stylishly different from the usual melodrama and over-the-top theatrics that we usually associate him with. While she works as the Associate Editor at a publishing house, Hooda is a senior reporter and news anchor. While things seem normal between the two on the surface, you get the impression that both are somehow living separate lives under the same roof. Rani tries to shrug it off blaming it on the pressures and strain of the modern way of life.

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 The ebullient Saqib Salim enters their life as the new intern in Rani’s office. He is openly gay and storms out of his house in the opening sequence of the movie after telling off his father for calling him a eunuch. Rani becomes fast friends with her young colleague and invites him home for a surprise dinner which changes their lives in a way that no one ever imagined. Saqib recognizes Hooda for what he is – a closet homosexual who is yet to come to terms with his sexual identity and tries to make him accept it.

Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Lag Jaa Gale’ and ‘Ajeeb Dastaan Hain Yeh’ sung by a child on the railway platform portrays the conflicts and the inner emotions of the protagonists in a beautifully and haunts you even long after you’ve left the hall. Rani shines as the glamorous and confident working woman and delivers one of her best performances to date while Hooda and Salim do justice to their roles.

Dibakar Bannerjee’s adaptation of a Satyajit Ray story – ‘Potol Babu Filmstar’ comes next with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the main lead. Nawazuddin plays a failed actor – a common man without pretensions who is struggling to find a regular job. He regales his invalid daughter with movie stories daily and even keeps an emu as a pet though I really did not understand where the emu fit into the story.

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On the way back home from a failed job interview, he lingers on the road to watch a movie shooting in progress.  He gets the chance of a lifetime when he is picked from the crowd to do a five-second scene with the hero of the film – Ranbir Kapoor. (No, Ranbir Kapoor does not make an appearance here.) As the story progresses, Nawazuddin’s dead father (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) makes an appearance to taunt him for never being willing to make any effort for getting a job. Nawazuddin’s mute scene at the end where he tells his excited daughter about his ‘movie shooting’ is the highlight of this story and proves once again why he has become one of the best finds of Bollywood in recent times.

Click Next for Zoya Akhtar’s story

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Amrita Nandagopal

A passion for the written word drew Amrita to the world of freelance writing. She loves writing about current affairs, movies, books, relationships, parenting and the joys and tribulations of being a work-at-home mom.

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