Such is the state of Bollywood that to celebrate (or simply acknowledge) a century of Indian cinema, four directors have made a short film each, and all they had to was make it decently, to let everybody know decently made films still come out of Hindi cinema. These 100 years of cinema have given movie buffs plenty of films to enjoy, and although there is a good film that comes our way every now and then, nine out of ten Hindi movies leave us squirming with embarrassment, cringing in our seats, cursing our fate, and dying to get out of the multiplex and in the warm embrace of an air-conditioned bar. So, every time I watch a movie that doesn’t feel like an axe chopping my skull into two equal halves, I inhale and exhale consciously, very deeply, and try to take in and hold on on the moments of these extremely rare experiences.
Karan Johar perhaps meant to reach out to the gay community long ago, and his film seems like a long overdue apology to the queers who are well aware of how many folks in Bollywood like it up the bum. His story of a stigmatized homosexual, who because of a strong attraction to a married man, brings out the latter’s bisexuality and with that frees the desperate working wife, is a contrived tale. The insertion (pardon all the puns in this review) of their common love of old Hindi film music wasn’t necessary at all, because people come together because they want to come together, not because they both like some long dead composer who was criminally underrated. There is also a beggar child who sings on a railway bridge, and Ram Gopal Varma must be losing hair thinking about how to thrust an even more real slice-of-reality scene in his next flick which will try to be very hard-hitting but won’t even prick a balloon.
Dibakar Banerjee has done it at last. After making that shit movie Shanghai which all the mainstream critics went gaga over, Dibakar Banerjee has made an amazing little film with the absolutely stunning Nawazuddin Siddique in the role of a man who does odd jobs to sustain a living. Adding weirdness to this short story is an emu who… looks happy to be in a Bollywood movie. Nawazuddin misses out on the job of a watchman because he’s late for the interview, and later watching a movie shoot, is picked from among the onlookers to play a bit part in the film. I’d love to tell you about this in detail, but I’d rather you treat yourself to a class act by a splendid actor. So impressive is Nawaz as the guy who hallucinates his dead father chiding him, with the emu present in the hallucination, and later plays his very tiny role in the film that’s being made and rushes home without taking his payment because he wants to give an animated narration to his sick daughter about how his day was.
Zoya Akhtar has it worse than Karan Johar. She makes mainstream films with an artsy touch, and this can go wrong if the focus is too much on ensuring the movie does business. This is hardly the problem here, though. The story is quite cute: A fucked family, in which the mother has no say, the father decides everything, the daughter can’t go on a school trip because money is being spent on the son’s sport coaching fees, even though the boy doesn’t want to play with other boys and wants to dance like Katrina Kaif. While it’s cool how the brother and sister raise funds so that she can go on that school trip to the Badami caves (which are so old that they might fall before next year, according to the girl), I was quite shocked as Zoya Akhtar’s story unfolded. The love for dance seemed like a coverup, for the boy turned out to be a happy little cross-dresser. Fucking disgusting shit, I tell you. I’m not surprised he got slapped by his father for wearing his mother’s make-up and his sister’s clothes and dancing like a little slut.
Anurag Kashyap plays it safe in Bombay Talkies. He has these odd characters in his movies which you end up liking a lot, and he’s got his Gangs Of Wasseypur actor Vineet Kumar here as Vijay, whose sick father thinks he’s going to die, and wants Amitabh Bachchan to taste their homemade murabba. Vijay (a name made famous by the megastar through several of his super-hit films) gets a taste of Bombay/Mumbai trying to get past the Big B’s security, and Anurag Kashyap’s Murabba is a blast to watch. Vineet Kumar essays his haplessness with brilliance, going everywhere with his precious jar of murabba, sharing awkward conversations with other AB fans waiting outside his Juhu residence to get a glimpse of the superstar. It’s funny as hell, and mainly for those who are aware how great a phenomenon Amitabh Bachchan is. (Is there anyone who doesn’t know?)
So, yeah – Bombay Talkies is certainly worth watching. Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap excel, and Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar make decent efforts. A humorous zombie film (zom-com, they’re calling it) Go Goa Gone hits theatres this week, but if that’s not your thing I totally recommend Bombay Talkies. If only to believe decently made films still come out of Hindi cinema.