Even after three years or so, fans are not ready to put aside Anurag Kashyap’s hard-hitting film Gangs of Wasseypur for one simple reason - they want something better to get over it. Here he comes up with Bombay Velvet, which reinforces his position in Bollywood.The filmmaker goes to painstaking lengths to place this thriller, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Karan Johar, in 1969 - when Mumbai was about to take its first steps towards becoming the financial capital of India.
What follows is a series of exquisite scenes, weaved with a great story and backed by brilliant acting. Ranbir Kapoor, who hasn’t had a hit for some time, is back with a gripping performance as the multi-faceted Johnny Balraj. His chemistry with Rosie (played by Anushka Sharma) is a breath of fresh air, something different from how actors usually flaunt their love in Bollywood films. For instance, in one scene Rosie asks Balraj about a newspaper report connected to him. Balraj doesn’t find her interference appropriate and ends up slapping her - and Rosie responds by throwing a chair at him.
In another typical Anurag Kashyap romantic scene, Rosie tells Balraj: “Tujhe maar dungi, agar tune mujhe dhoka diya.” (I will kill you even if you think of leaving me). Kapoor’s transformation from mad lover to greedy gangster and killer, keeping the essence of his character intact, is remarkable. Sharma justifies her role in the film and her “cosmetic lips” controversy can take a back seat after this performance. Meanwhile, at 42 Johar couldn’t have asked for a better debut.
Kashyap didn’t give him much dialogue, but lets him speak through his eyes and gestures. It is not easy to recreate 1960s Mumbai, which has changed completely from how it once looked - which is why most filmmakers chose Kolkata for films set in the past. Credit should be given to the filmmakers for erecting such beautiful sets in Sri Lanka, with attention paid to each minute detail.
Music is an integral part of Kashyap’s storytelling in the film. The jazz music fits in perfectly with the theme, as every song takes the story forward. In fact, you can’t think of this film without the soothing music.
The film is a bit stretched in the second half and there are sequences that could have been avoided for a finer cinematic experience. But the movie doesn’t end before it empowers you with some history lessons about Mumbai, which is no wonder as Kashyap wanted it to reflect some facts. While most Bollywood filmmakers continue to deliver brainless films one after another, Kashyap continues producing hard-hitting cinema.
If you have the capacity to cope with high-pressure films, something different from typical Bollywood masala, Bombay Velvet is your catch of the week.