Dedh Minute Review: Bombay Velvet

Aniruddha Guha reviews Anurag Kashyap's Bombay Velvet in 90 seconds in this week's Dedh Minute Review.

Watching Bombay Velvet is an extremely infuriating experience. You hate awful films and love great ones, but rarely do you walkout of a theatre feeling frustrated at a real missed opportunity. That’s how I felt after watching Bombay Velvet.

There is so much going for the film. The 1960 Bombay setting, Sonal Sawant’s gorgeous production design, Amit Trivedi’s brilliant music, which helps create the right mood in every frame. And the acting!

Karan Johar, in his first acting gig, resembles the stylish villains from the 50s and 60s, and is wonderfully restrained. At the other end of the spectrum is Ranbir Kapoor, who nails everything about his over-the-top character. The writers give him the best lines, and he delivers them like a pro. Anushka Sharma performs the role of a jazz artist called Rosie Noronha, and is captivating in every scene, even though she suffers from incoherent characterisation. Ranbir and Anushka’s sizzling chemistry sets the screen ablaze.

But here’s the thing: In spite of all that is good about Bombay Velvet, the film never quite comes together, mainly due to some inept screenwriting. Major story developments are based on flimsy grounds. The first half hurtles along without the writers bothering to plug gaps in the story. When the narrative settles down post-interval, bizarre plot twists are introduced.

Director Anurag Kashyap tries his best to salvage the mess that is the work of the writers, including Gyan Prakash, Thani, Vasan Bala and Kashyap himself. Martin Scorsese’s regular collaborator, Thelma Schoonmaker shares editing credit with Prerna Saigal, and it’s impossible to say if the film turned into such a mess on the editing table, or if it came already messy to the editors who could do little to save it.

Bombay Velvet is, in a line, a well-made debacle. A scene in the film shows characters stabbing dead bodies to create holes in them, because bodies with holes sink to the bottom. That’s Bombay Velvet’s problem too. The plot holes sink the film. My rating is a 2 on 5.

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