May 3, 2013
Karan Johar, Dibakar Bannerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap
Rani Mukherjee, Randeep Hooda, Saleem Saqib
1 hour 52 minutes
Like four scoops of icecream, one yummier than the other, Bombay Talkies serves up a flavourful quartet of delights that leave us craving for more.
A girl on a railway station who croons Lata Mangeshkar songs, an ostrich, a flirty entertainment journalist, a closet actor, a little boy who likes to dance like Katrina Kaif and a man from Allahabad who just wants to meet Amitabh Bachchan for a few seconds... such are the engrossing characters that populate the unforgettable world of Bombay Talkies.
The first story directed by Karan Johar where a sterile marriage between an urban working-couple played by Rani Mukherjee and Randeep Hooda is shaken by the arrival of young ebullient homo+++ual who enters couple's frozen marriage in a most unexpected way.
Johar looks at the three characters' frightening spiritual emptiness with a dispassion that was denied to the characters in Johar's earlier exploration of crumbling marital values in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.
The second story directed by Dibakar Bannerjee features Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a man who would have been an actor if only life's drudgeries had not overtaken his life. Here his detailing of chawl life is unerring. Nikos Andritsakis's cinematography doesn't miss a single nuance in Nawaz's sad yet hopeful, bleak yet bright existence.
Ebullient and enchanting are the descriptions that come to mind while watching Zoya Akhtar's film about a little boy (Naman Jain, brilliant) who would rather dance to Katrina Kaif's song than become a cricketer or a pilot, as per tyrant papa (Ranveer Shorey)'s wishes.
Shades of Ronit Roy from Vikramaditya Motwane's Udaan in Shorey's character do not take away from the stimulating freshness of Zoya's treatment.
Finally Anurag Kashyap's homage to the unmatchable stardom of Amitabh Bachchan. A simple fable of a man journeying from Allahabad to meet the super-iconic Bachchan this segment of the story is more baggy and loose-limbed than the other three tightly-edited stories. This is not to take away from its power.
Bombay Talkies is segmented and layered, yet cohesive and compelling from the first frame to the last. While unraveling the magic of cinema and its impact on the minds of audiences Bombay Talkies also displays how much cinema has evolved over the generations.
If you watch only one film a year make sure it's this one.