Rating: * * ½
Review By: Keyur Seta
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Writers: Vasan Bala, Gyan Prakash, Anurag Kashpap and S Thanikachalam
Producers: Fox Star Studios and Phantom Films
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Satyadeep Mishra, Manish Choudhary, Kay Kay Menon
Music: Amit Trivedi
When a filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap joins hands with Ranbir Kapoor for an ambitious project like Bombay Velvet, one’s expectations are sure to rise. But the not-so-exciting trailers made us think otherwise. And the film in totality turns out to be exactly what it showed from the promotional material. It’s a tried and tested saga with Kashyap’s artistic touch.
The story commences in 1949 when Balraj relocates to Bombay with his mother. Due to abject poverty, he (Ranbir Kapoor) grows up to become a pickpocket street urchin, guided by his best friend Chiman (Satyadeep Mishra). During one such incident, he comes in contact with the wealthy businessman Kaizad Khambata (Karan Johar), who makes Balraj the whole and soul of his new Jazz nightclub Bombay Velvet. He now becomes Jonny Balraj.
Singer Rosie (Anushka Sharma), who also has had a disturbing past, becomes the star of Bombay Velvet. Rosie falls in love with Balraj. Simultaneously, attempts are being made to turn Bombay into a metropolitan city. At the same time, Balraj’s ambition transforms into greed.
Those in love with Mumbai (Bombay earlier) and have been staying here since long would feel nostalgic and amazed by the re-creation of old Bombay. This old Bombay charm is Bombay Velvet’s biggest strong point, even though on few occasions the scenario easily appears like a film set.
As expected, Kashyap has churned out a number of memorable moments through his artistic presentation. A scene displayed through a mirror and another one where Balraj strangles a person driving a car are examples of his brilliance.
But the film falls short of being superlative. The entire plot is predictable and tried and tested, which in turn is narrated unevenly. For example, the tale is established in the initial portions in a hurried manner whereas the pace drops in between and during the ending parts. The second half has a filmi twist, which can best be described as silly. Also, the behavior of few characters is questionable during some key incidents.
The film is about a Jazz nightclub so one does expect the music to fall in the same league. But the problem here is that there are too many nightclub songs, which are also similar to each other. Coming to the technicalities, the first half sees abrupt cuts every now and then. The camerawork is impressive. The brilliant background score adds plenty of life to the proceedings. The scene where Balraj gears up to shoot baddies with two machine guns deserves mention.
Although this is not one of his best acts, Ranbir Kapoor succeeds in bringing Johnny Balraj alive. He leaves his mark during a quite a few sequences. Anushka Sharma does what was required from her. But there isn’t much depth in her character. Karan Johar is the surprise package. He molds himself into the character of Kaizad Khambata in a confident manner.
Manish Choudhary is a quality performer and he proves it yet again. Satyadeep Mishra will get noticed after his act here as Balraj’s best friend. He nicely underplays his character. Kay Kay Menon, as the cunning cop, is believable. Vivaan Shah, Jagdish Rajpurohit, as the Police Commissioner, Sandesh Jadhav and the rest play well-supporting characters.
Overall: Bombay Velvet is a one-time watch for those who prefer Anurag Kashyap brand of cinema. The high cost of production and lack of mass appeal will make it tough for the film to earn good or profit-making collections at the box office.