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Monday, May 06, 2013

'Bombay Talkies'

Celebrating cinema; deconstructing and restructuring the Bollywood dreams....
"Har kissa hai cinema ke jaadoo ka......" goes the song accompanying the opening credits, and those words say it all...... it is all about celebrating the magic of cinema, and somewhat magical was this experience of watching this anthology, this collage, of four films, for me. I believe cinema can move us, and that is why they are aptly called movies and the moving images connect with our souls, they let us relive the passion that is ever-present in our hearts. You know, my life has been a journey through films, and Bollywood has been an essential part of it. Watching 'Bombay Talkies' paralleled my personal reflections and my full-bodied association with cinema, in general, and Hindi cinema, in particular.
Four contemporary directors. Four short films, four distinctly different narratives. Connected only by their referencing of Hindi cinema, popularly termed Bollywood, and its obvious appendages and accessories. What better treat could we have asked for as a celebration of cinema, or rather a celebration of Indian cinema's hundred years, hundred years of narrating emotion, after all we are a bunch of emotional fools, and we are not known to eschew emotions..... instead, we love our cinema steeped in emotion, every cinematic frame that has been lauded and will be lauded again is likely to be characterized by the emotions that ooze out, that drench us, and enrich us at the same time. 'Bombay Talkies' doffs its hat in that direction. However, this time, as the format chosen by the acclaimed and/or popular directors being that of short films, the content is definitely non-mainstream, at least not the core kind. Yet, neither are the shorts influenced by the very much thriving and buoyant French shorts, or other European ones. At best, one is reminded of the Iranian films, especially in one or two of the segments.
Now, the question arises - how successful is the entire outcome? Is the bouquet worth celebrating in itself? Does it fulfill its objective? Does it overwhelm? Is it a definitive collaboration of creative contributors? Does the cinematic tribute relevant for the diversity and heterogeneity as much as the monolithic compulsions of Bollywood?
Well, those posers can have one debating, and tearing hair, but the answers are many. For me, the avid movie buff (movie junkie) that I am, the experience as a viewer was refreshing; I smiled, I chuckled, I shed a tear as well, and I marveled...... and I must say that I left the theater thoroughly entertained. I felt that Bollywood isn't facing an extinction threat, our films have evolved - they have come a long way indeed - and will continue to do so, despite the challenges faced by cinema in general, in this age and time.
Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap - the four directors - have proved their worth...... they may have varying degrees of success, they may have faltered at places, and made us sit up and take note of their prowess in the best of moments (and moments there are aplenty that stay with us after the curtains come down)..... the makers, their outpourings, aided by superlative contributions of the cast and crew (which include talents both old and new) are what make 'Bombay Talkies' a special film for me (and I know I am not alone).

7 comments:

Joy said...

This portmanteau of a film really made me laugh and cry and fall in love with Hindi cinema all over again.

Sharmee said...

I loved this four-in-one (or should I say 5-in-1?) offering in entirety.
I loved its 'hatke' flavor, am every bit charmed.

Neeraj said...

Karan Johar's and Dibakar Banerjee's films were like little masterpieces in their own right, and Zoya Akhtar's and Anurag Kashyap's segments were lesser but sugary delights alright..... the chaashni-morabba song saying it all.

raj said...

It's as much a celebration of small films as it is a like a doffing of hat to the biggies, the legends, the classics, and the cult flicks of yesteryear.

jeet said...

I have to say that I liked the other slice-of-life-in-Bombay/Mumbai film 'Dhobi Ghat' (Mumbai Diaries) a lot more than this assembly of shorts. 'Bombay Talkies' fell short of my expectations.

Sunny said...

Well shorn of mainstream (read: formulaic) trappings, this film (or collection of films) makes us proud, real proud.

Rachit said...

It's pure cinema, fulsome tribute to Bollywood even through short-length offerings. One lament: the title should have been anything but Bombay Talkies - a real misnomer of a title.
And, was there any need for the final assembly of stars choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant? I don't think so.