Movie Review: ‘Bombay Velvet’ by Neha Ravindran 


Movie: Bombay Velvet

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar, Vivaan Shah, Kay Kay Menon

Genre: Drama

Bombay in the 60’s was a hot bed of crime. Gang wars, underworld politics, shootouts were a pretty much the scenes of the day. ‘Bombay Velvet’ is set in the Bombay of 1960’s where corruption, crime were the brick and mortar of the very machinery of Bombay. Directed and co produced by Anurag Kashyap, the movie is based on the book ‘Mumbai Fables’ by historian Gyan Prakash. It is influenced by several true stories, put together in a fictionalised account in the backdrop of a Bombay juggled by land mafias, capitalists, politicians and criminals.

Balraj/Jhonny (Ranbir Kapoor) is a street fighter and a high end criminal. Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar) runs his own newspaper who ropes in Balraj and his friend Chimman (Satyadeep Mishra) into his plans of opening a club Bombay Velvet under Jhonny’s name where he would invest and use the place to further his illegal activities. Rosie is a Jazz singer who performs at the club and she is in love with Jhonny. Crime branch officer (Kay Kay Menon) is hot on their trail to uncover their underground activities. But under the dark backdrop of crime, power and politics, can one be sure of whom to trust and not? What will happen if deals fall through and friends turn foes over night? Guns are loaded and rounds are fired, who will live and who will kill?!!

This is not your regular bollywood action- drama movie. It has a charm that cannot be put in words, it can only be experienced in moments where the director exceeds his imagination and calibre and it gets reflected in the scenes shot. But sometimes, the transition from one scene to another lost a tiny piece of the narrative, confusing one momentarily. The setting of the movie, Bombay of the 60’s, is perfectly dreamy. Ranbir as Jhonny is splendid; this surely can be counted as one of his best performances. Karan Johar proves himself as a reliable actor; cast with shades of grey, he manages to bring in depth to his character. However, Anushka failed to rise up to her role; it wasn’t that she was aweful but she wasn’t awesome either. Her character had a lot more potential that I believe was left unexplored. Raveena Tandon on the other hand was pretty superb in her cameo role as a stage performer, she brought in a sauciness in her performance that was lacking in Anushka’s.

Cinematography by Rajeev Ravi is fantastic, if you can look past the tiny little bugging flaws in the movie, you can be assured of a flight back to the past. The music by Amit trivedi awakens the bygone Jazz era of Bombay that had the city in its grip. However, listening to the groans of the people sitting next to me in the movie (who never came back after the interval), I am pushed to wonder, if a large part of the Bollywood audience, is yet to embrace an experiment like Bombay Velvet.

To repeat myself, this is not your regular Bollywood movie. So if you are planning to go for this movie, be ready to be surprised and not all suprises are fun. Happy watching!

My Verdict: ***

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