Bombay Velvet (Movie Review)

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Satyadeep Misra, Karan Johar, Manish Choudhary, Siddhartha Basu, Raveena Tandon Thadani, Remo Fernandes, Vivaan Shah, Jagdish Rajpurohit, Sandesh Jadhav, Shaanti, Denzil Smith

Director: Anurag Kashyap   Screenplay: Vasan Bala, Anurag Kashyap, Gyan Prakash, Thani

Music: Amit Trivedi   Production Design: Errol Kelly (Sri Lanka), Sonal Sawant  

Set Decoration: Kazvin Dangor, Rose Maria, Tharakan   Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi

Running Time: 149 minutes

Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ saga reaches its closure with ‘Bombay Velvet’. While the former dealt with the rural terrain of newly independent India, the latter deals with the mother of Indian urban terrain aka Mumbai, or Bombay, as it was called in those days.

Both the movies, more or less, have the same outline – new India with new policies and vast untapped potential; cartel of politicians, police, gangsters etc. striving for the largest chunk, power strife amongst men of power and ambition; rags to riches climb of ruthless and determined protagonist; and his vulnerable moments with his lady love. In fact, in both the movies, before taking his last breath, the protagonist guns down his foes like a driven maniac! However, in spite of the aforesaid similarities, the backdrop, narration, casting and overall sentiment is quite different in these movies.

In 1949, Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) and Chiman (Satyadeep Misra) arrive at Bombay as kids. They come across each other, and end up becoming lifetime friends and partners in crime. They are street smart, self taught in the ways of the city and dream of making it big. Their prayers are answered in the form of Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar), who employs them, rechristens Balraj as Johnny and adds the required moolahs and style into their lives. On the surface, they are the managers of Khambatta’s brand new and high end club, ‘Bombay Velvet’, but in reality they are the executioners of all his dirty works (read blackmailing, kidnapping, murder). Khambatta uses his club to hold meetings with the high and mighty, like – the mayor, Romi Mehta (Siddharth Bas) to execute vast land deals that will yield gold after Bombay’s Reclamation. He also runs the paper ‘The Torrent’ and uses his wife (Shaanti) to seduce and catch his foes off guard!

Jimmy Mistry (Manish Choudhary) is Khambatta’s arch rival, who runs his own paper and is against such closed door capitalistic deals. He is on his own mission to divulge the misgivings of Khambatta and company. He is also rich and efficient and considers himself a follower of Communism.

Rosie (Anushka Sharma), an aspiring jazz singer with abused Goan (Portuguese ruled) past reaches Bombay and travels the clichéd path of – semi nude photo shoots, small time bar singer, mistress (of Jimmy Mistry), and ultimately the cherished lady love (of Johnny) and celebrated jazz singer of a high end club (Bombay Velvet).

In a bid to make use, Johnny’s immense liking for Rosie, Jimmy sends her to Johnny, to gather a game changing evidence. Instead, they end up becoming two youthful and passionate lovers. Alongside, Johnny becomes, more ambitious and is not satisfied with just managing the club. Instead he seeks a slice of Khambatta’s real estate deals! This turns the cartel of high and mighty against him, leading to the onset of a cat-and-mouse game, which leads to Rosie’s fake death and investigation of the same by Inspector Kulkarni (Kay Kay Menon), a detective.

Set design and Ranbir Kapoor are the two best things about this movie. The former shows immense r&d and immaculate detailing, and the latter has made full use of his acting genes, intelligence and histrionics to sink his teeth deep into the character. Its impossible to think that he is the same guy who played the couch potato in ‘Wake Up Sid’. Throughout the movie, both by his body language and dialogue delivery, Ranbir exudes a sense of earnestness, which is a treat to watch. Anushka Sharma looks tall and elegant and surreal till she plays docile and silent. Her dialogue delivery is same as all her other movies, as well as TV appearances! She wears an enviable collection of larger than life gowns with immaculate jewelry, make-up and hair-do. In some of the initial frames, this hero heroine duo does remind you of Raj Kapoor and Nadira! Apparently, Karan Johar has acted pretty well. But his non-stop reality TV show appearances displaying his real life fun loving personality loom so large in your head, that you somewhere fail to connect with his on-screen character. Satyadeep Misra has acted very well. His understated acting is very precise. Raveena Tandon Thadani appears twice as the lead club singer and takes care of the required style quotient pretty well. Manish Choudhary, Kay Kay Menon and others have also acted well. Cinematography is very good. Music is good. Screenplay has some loop holes, which could have been taken care of. The movie is based on historian Gyan Prakash’s book ‘Mumbai Fables’.

P.S.: A yesteryear pairing that comes to one’s mind, that would have done full justice to this movie, is that of Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi.

Prity Poddar
An article by:
Prity Poddar
Movie Critic, Writer, Painter and Veg. Food Enthusiast

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