Movie Review: Bombay Velvet (2015)
Few films have the ability to get your attention right from the opening shot. In Bombay Velvet, Anurag Kashyap — jumping from a mid-budget-indie scale to no-holds-barred mainstream mode — does this exceptionally well. As the opening credits roll, a nostalgic surprise from the ‘90s greets you against the backdrop of Amit Trivedi’s jazz score, and the world of Bombay Velvet becomes yours before you can blink. The atmosphere is intoxicating; the sets, costumes and scope are far beyond anything done so far in Bollywood.
The film is supposed to borrow from Gyan Prakash’s book, Mumbai Fables, which is a look at the city’s recent history. But Bombay Velvet is no historical sermon. It’s a love story, pure and simple. Ranbir Kapoor is Johnny Balraj, a boxer turned mobster. It’s a showy role and he looks great in a boxing vest. He also looks extremely cool as he chats up Rosie, the girl of his dreams, played by an equally attractive Anushka Sharma.
She croons velvet on stage, he woos her with his eyes and smile. When Anuskha beautifully lip syncs to “Dhadaam Dhadaam”, it’s paisa vasool date movie stuff, hyper romanticized. Sharma and Kapoor make a great couple – convincingly and deeply in love, even when the girl smashes furniture on the guy. It’s been a while since we saw an on screen romantic couple to root for in a Hindi film. This duo’s chemistry is a breath of fresh air.
Then there’s Karan Johar as the villainous newspaper baron Khambatta, pulling off an unlikely, uncontrollable snigger when you least expect it, and Satyadeep Mishra as Balraj’s pal, Chimman, who can own the screen with just his stare. They’re all matched by the incredible production design that recreates 1950s’ Bombay with such detail that it’s impossible to differentiate the sets from CGI.