Film: Bombay Talkies
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Katrina Kaif, Vineet Kumar. Amitabh Bachchan
Director: Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee
An ode to 100 years of Indian cinema - that is not the only factor that makes Bombay Talkies a different film. Here is one film that was not being promoted for it's star cast (let us not forget that the producers made sure almost all stars, living and dead, make an appearance in the film) or it's amazing story. Bombay Talkies could be the first film that was being sold merely in the name of its directors.
Interestingly, four of the most iconic film directors came together to make the movie that celebrates the spirit of Indian cinema. Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee and Zoya Akhtar together succeed in capturing the essence of passion and madness about Indian cinema.
Just days before the theatrical release of Bombay Talkies, talking to Anupama Chopra on Front Row (Star World), Anurag Kashyap had said that audiences will see a new and different Karan Johar with this movie. Anurag also said that the filmmaker inside Karan is stuffed somewhere inside the garb of a producer but with Bombay Talkies, the filmmaker takes the liberty of coming out.
The filmmaker has certainly scored with Bombay Talkies. Going by the reviews, Karan Johar's story explores the difficulties of living a lie, coming to terms with one's own sexuality and the emotions involved. Rani Mukerjee receives rave reviews for her acting and so does Saquib Saleem. It is a story where an Entertainment Editor (Rani Mukerjee), her husband and News TV anchor (Randeep Hooda) and an intern (Saquib Saleem) are entangled in their own web of lies and emotions.
Karan Johar succeeds in surprising the audience with his short film in Bombay Talkies. Tushar Joshi, film critic with DNA writes, "Johar handles the sensitive subject with maturity and shows a side to him we hope he digs deep into." It is a day of praises for Karan Johar it seems. Simantini Dey writes for Firstpost, "Shrugging off all the candy floss and melodrama that are the trademarks of his films, Johar seems to have picked a subject that's close to his heart and not necessarily guaranteed to win over audiences. And he proves he is a consummate storyteller."
Dibakar Banerjee is efficient in his use of the acting prowess of Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Loosely based on Satyajit Ray's Potol Babu, Dibkar makes full use of Nawazuddin's acting chops. In his short story for Bombay Talkies, Dibakar explores the character of an aspiring actor who accidently gets to work in a film. Saibal Chatterjee (NDTV) writes, "Dibakar Banerjee gives full rein to what he is good at - capturing the joys and despairs of "that little man" in the crowd."
Tushar Joshi for DNA writes, "On paper Dibakar's story must have been a fantastic read, but its transition to the big screen is a bit sketchy. While you can't really go wrong with casting Siddiqui, there are parts where the actor himself seems a bit confused about what's happening around him." Nawazuddin, nonetheless, manages to enlighten the screen with his acting skills.
A standard Dibakar Banerjee movie is what you get - no more, yet no less.
In tandem with expectations, Zoya Akhtar's story wonderfully explores the emotions of a kid who idolises style diva Katrina Kaif and wants to be like her. Zoya's story holds a lot of potential but critics feel she fails to explore them. Tushar Joshi writes for DNA, "Zoya doesn't really delve into the boy's psyche. She merely presents a situation that focuses more on his craze for Katrina rather than the outcome of that emotion."
But, unlike Karan and Dibakar's stories, Zoya narrates a story about the madness associated with Indian cinema - in line with the theme of Bombay Talkies. She also brings out the talent of Naman Jain quite efficiently. Naman has impressed the critics with his acting.
Film critic Mayank Shekhar says, "Karan Johar's short film incidentally isn't centred on a larger-than-life male character who can sweep mushy women off their feet... Suffice it to say both Johar and Akhtar's films deal with the same theme and while one is rather rebellious and angry (and that is Johar's film by the way!), the other movie is bitter-sweet and dreamy...If anything, Karan's film is the most experimental of the lot, at any rate it is the most unlikely one from the director. Zoya's is the most intimate, Dibakar's is the most evocative, and Anurag's is quite easily the most 'filmy'."
Moving on to the last leg of Bombay Talkies, Anurag Kashyap's Murabba is a typical Anurag Kashyap story with the Amitabh Bachchan fan (Vineet kuamr Singh) trying to meet the Big B on the behest of his father (Sudhir Pandey). Anurag manages to capture the madness, the respect a fan holds for his icon.
Talking about his story in Bombay Talkies, Anurag Kashyap had said that it was actually his story as he, too, is a huge fan of Amitabh Bachchan. Anurag had also confessed that while Karan Johar's stint would be the most experimental, Kashyap's attempt would be at making a typical Bollywood masala. Indulging the fan in himself, Anurag actually succeeds in getting the most 'filmy story' in Bombay Talkies.
As Simantini Dey sums it up, "While Johar finally comes out of the cinema closet and admits to being a smarter, more sensitive and less masaledaar filmmaker, Kashyap seems to be running out of ideas."
Four directors, four different stories told in four ways. While the film celebrates the madness about cinema, it also exposes the audience to hitherto unexplored creative contours of Karan Johar.