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Study life, study literature. Eat food. Lots of it.
Also, I use a lot of adjectives- working on that, so bear with me.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

In a Film Reel! - #BombayTalkies

Have you ever hummed along with a song that you normally wouldn't have liked but did so just because it sounds so much better in a theatre, so much grander?
Have you ever heard a kid mouth an extremely melodramatic dialogue in an everyday, ordinary situation, and smiled at it?
Have you ever looked at a piece of clothing and thought back to how a specific actor was wearing something similar?
Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly thought, "yaar meri life pe toh film banani chahiye?"

If yes, then whether you like it or not, you have been affected by the mammoth giant that is the hindi film industry. Last year, I was participating in a debate where I had to defend the effect on films on our society. That, coupled with my own experiences of film-making (decidedly few and amateur) have led me to think about our lives and films. Combine that with the fact that I just saw Bombay Talkies makes for this rather lengthy rant/ review/ post.

Bombay Talkies is a rather impressive collection of four short films, each subtle, layered and nuanced in its own special way. Be it Karan Johar's tale of lies and urban relationships and the fear of homosexuality, Dibarkar Banerjee's story about an ordinary father who finds his passion in one scene in a film, Zoya Akhtar's deeply textured idea of a young boy whose dream is to become 'Sheila- a dancer', or Anurag Kashyap's engaging story of a man who carries near-immortality in a jar of Murabba, each one of them leaves you feeling happy on the inside.

The best part about the film is that it almost completely refuses to indulge in any bollywood cliche. The storytelling is mature, honest and fleetingly brutal in a way that is far more engaging than any emotionally dialogued song and dance routine could have been. The use of music, sharp cinematography and amazingly constructed frames, along with controlled script-writing and brilliant performances all create something quite beyond the everyday film. The fact that neither one of the four stories is directly connected to the film industry just goes on to show how much of it affects our daily lives.

I have to specially mention Karan Johar, though. I've always been a fan of his early sugar-romances, but with Student of the Year, I'd lost a bit of my faith. When I saw Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I knew that he had the ability to create these beautifully imperfect characters and their stories, and that belief comes to fruition in his story here. The three lead characters in his segment of Bombay Talkies are so easy to relate to, yet so new. This is the kind of cinema that needs to be encouraged. The use of 'Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh' as a narrative device is also oddly compelling. Respect, Sir!

Though I do have a couple of complaints with the film. The fact that they are shorts films means that naturally, the end comes all too soon, however, sometimes it is abrupt. Such as in Zoya Akhtar's segment, *SPOILERS* when 'Sheila' performs for the crowd, it contains a lot of parents. So it is safe to assume that one of them will go and tell his father. What follows then, we'll never know- it is left to the audiences to speculate. Even with the other films, the characters grow on you so easily that the part where you're supposed to think of what happens after, leaves you a little dissatisfied that you don't get to see it. Also, the last film could have cut down on one of the songs, and added some more of the sharp dialogues.Something more along the lines of "Hum Bachchan sir ka daant pehchante hai, unki filmo mein dekhe hai" would have made it even more interesting!

Throughout each of the four segments, I was sitting cross-legged in my seat in the air-conditioned multiplex, grinning like a child.  I've realised that whether you're in a multiplex or a single screen cinema or watching a film projected on a giant cloth, the allure of this medium doesn't change a lot. The idea of something larger than you and me appeals to all of us.

If you've ever enjoyed, I mean genuinely passionately enjoyed even a single hindi film, you'll relate to Bombay Talkies, especially the end credits. The whiff of the popcorn, the light from the usher's torch and sound of the projector won't leave you for a very long time, if you are anything like me. Each of the four segments made me want to weep, smile even wider then and get back to watching the films that make my day, not to mention, get back to film-making- in the hopes that something that I've created will one day make a ripple in the minds of audiences just like me!


  1. So, the other day, I went to buy a pair of shades and my Dad thought I looked like the villain robot T1000 from Terminator 2. Hell yeah!

  2. Completely agree to you Farheen! I grinned like a child throughout!
    And yes, 'left on you to speculate' does leave us satisfied but that is how these short films work. They just portray. They leave us thinking, wanting more. They don't pass on a judgement or a moral or anything like 'ideal end'

    Wonderful piece of art= 'Bombay Talkies'
    Honest critique= You. :)

    1. I get that, In fact I'm glad they didnt pass a judgement or give us an ideal end. This is just something that leaves me with curiosity, knowing that I'll never know for sure. Like even when *SPOILER* the guy in the train smashes the murabba jar, we can only imagine a number of reasons that he did it for, but never really know.

      Either way, thank you! :D

  3. Crisp writing, a refreshing change from the other reviews! And somehow this one makes me want to go and watch the film more than the trailers. :P
    I love short films for this reason, they intrigue you, pick on your brain and leave it there. To you to guess the end. Sometimes, beauty lies in the mystery of the unknown. :)
    Way to go (y) :*

  4. I felt zoya's story was amazing bt the end as u said was abrupt . I loved the part ven he prays to katrina.
    Again one thing I would like to mention is dat the parents don't come to know ven in middle of d night the boy turns on his tv at pretty high volume.

    1. *SPOILERS* The part where he prays to Katrina is so funny, and also a little pinching at the same time.
      The TV volume thing didn't bother me as much because lets face it, most of us have done that as well. Most of the time parents dont find out because either they're fast asleep or there is usually a bedroom door that might be shut so the sound may not have carried.

  5. N Agree vth you dat how ajeeb Dastan hai has been used .
    Bt farheen one thought still haunts my mind is that hooda was bisexual or homosexual bcoz after spending some time vth that cute boy He makes out vth his wife (as rain mentions it).
    Whats your say on dis .

  6. Thanks for the feedback :)

    *SPOILERS* I feel its a little unfair to judge whether he's bisexual or homosexual. You have to understand that he may have been bisexual, or he may have been a homosexual who's been supressing his choices all along. So his having been intimate with his wife may have been a way of him trying to reassure himself that he's straight because thats what he thinks is the sinless way. IF you think about it, there are so many gay men in the society who, in order to not be ridiculed by stupid people, live these double lives where in their minds they know their orientation but for the sake of the society they have a wife anf often even children. It's not even their fault, its the pressure they live with.

  7. That reply opened me up to a new thought .
    Thanx lookin forward to ur new piece . Cheers !!!