<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Anurag Kashyap. Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Kay Kay Menon, Karan Johar, Siddhartha Basu, Manish Chaudhary
Just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s good or shocking. Bombay Velvet deserves the ‘brickbats’ because if you’ve watched enough Hollywood films you’ll know that there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before.
A period gangster film set in the 1960s when Bombay was on the brink of becoming a metropolis, Bombay Velvet has an interesting look to it at first. But then it descends into a mire of choppy scenes about a poor boy called Johnny who comes to the city with his mother and is caught up in a life of crime and boxer ala Tyler Durden (Fight Club) and eventually becomes the right hand man (Ranbir Kapoor) for what seems to be a shady, ‘fruitcake’ businessman played by Karan Johar.
A journalist (Manish Chaudhary) wants to expose the shady dealings and sends his accomplice (Anushka Sharma) to charm the young Johnny as a singer at his nightclub Bombay Velvet. What unfolds is a series of choppily edited scenes showing Johnny’s life to that point as well as the romance and deception that follows. There are underworld dons, politicians, gangsters, prostitutes and lots of unexplained occurrences with no background or substantiation. Scenes flip flop and reappear unnecessarily and then all of a sudden Anushka Sharma’s character will sing a song on stage.
There’s none of the intrigue and suspense that you’d find in a film like Sarkar. Everything is so spoon-fed to the audience that it’s laughable. Ranbir’s performance is good and Karan Johar manages a couple of funny lines expertly, since that’s his forte anyway. At almost three hours in running time, I found myself drifting away and wondering to myself: haven’t I watched a hundreds of Hollywood films that have similar themes and scenes? In fact, the final showdown in the nightclub is certainly reminiscent of a scene from another film. But there’s not even half the adrenalin rush in it.
The problem with Bombay Velvet is that it’s trying to be a Hindi gangster movie but has none of the charm, magic, intrigue or grit. It’s just superficial and only incorporates all the familiar tropes and props from those Hollywood films it’s trying to emulate. It isn’t terrible; it’s just terribly boring and long.
And all those industry-wallah’s who ‘staunchly’ supported this film are clearly just kissing ass because they’ve watched better films than this, surely! All they’ve managed to do is diminish their credibility.
Bombay Velvet is a show with very little substance.