Indian Cinema has completed its 100 years of history in cinema making. This massive industry so far has seen dozens of artistic gems and mainstream superstars. Indian cinema industry, this time, combines four young admired directors directing an anthology film to mark this remarkable history of Indian cinema.
Bombay Talkies (2013) is a four chaptered film directed by Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap respectively. The film strongly draws on impact of mainstream Bollywood in the life of commoners, and also plays lightly around homosexuality and transsexuality.
Karan Johar’s directorial chapter commences the narrative. The story is about a happily married couple whose life is dismayed after introduction of a gay friend into the family. The chapter is no question a gay story, but it superficially touches on the issue and emotion. It is more concerned in giving melodramatic touches to the events using old Bollywood hits like ‘Ajeeb Dastan’ and ‘Lag ja gale.’ Starring Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda and chocolaty Saquib Saleem Qureshi, it is the glossiest of all chapters.
Then follows Dibakar Banerjee’s promising tale about a failed actor struggling to earn his family’s living. Present time favorite Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays an ill fated actor occupied with earning basic requirements for his three membered family. He is not ever ready to settle with life’s sophistication to pursue what he wanted in life, until one day a realization knocks him. The narrative about a doomed theatre actor is based on Satyajit Ray’s short story ‘Patol Babu, Filmstar.’ Banerjee adopts the most artsy approach of all to convey his idea.
Zoya Akhtar almost steps on the shoes of Karan Johar in recreating another tale about transsexuality. A kid is being forced to be grown up as a footballer, while in contrary he dreams to be an alluring dancer like Katrina Kaif (Sheela). Only son to an arrogant father (Ranvir Shorey), the kid finds it harsh to live his dream. He slips inside his sister’s garments and ornaments to enjoy being who he is. One day he discovers a way to tell to others what he wants in his life. Zoya’s hints a feeble caliber in storytelling as she is mostly occupied with justifying each and everything. The plot carries a superficial gaze into the psychology of the issue.
Anurag Kashyap’s chapter ends the film with a witty statement- ‘achar ke bottle mein
murabba nahin rakhna chahiye’; meaning ‘never store a sweet inside a pickle jar.’ The story reminds of the folklores where a wise father dispatches his sons off into an obvious journey, but to unexpectedly make them realize of the need of rationality and intelligence. In the first impression, the story submits how strongly are general audiences obsessed with Bollywood superstars, but as the story nears for the termination, it rather proposes a mockery to reckless approach to life. The story retains a quirkiness, but does lack enough thrust to convince deep inside.
Bombay Talkies does embark away from melodramatic Bollywood, but it does carry some of the traits. Still a must watch.