Movie Review: Bombay Velvet

Should you watch the Anurag Kashyap film this weekend? Read City 1016's Lokesh Dharmani's verdict
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Movie Review: Bombay Velvet
A still from Bombay Velvet

Ranbir Kapoor

Read more about Ranbir Kapoor

DIRECTOR: Anurag Kashyap
STARRING: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
RATING:  2.5 stars

Ranbir Kapoor has a moustache in Bombay Velvet. So does Anushka Sharma. In one of the opening scenes, she actually has upper lip hair. And then there is Karan Johar’s upper lip act that breaks into a hearty, uncontrollable laugh at such a forced joke that I couldn’t quite decide what was more contrived: the joke or KJo’s acting.

Anurag Kashyap, who has cried small budget all his life, seems to have raided even his producers’ children’s piggy banks. You can see huge sums have been well spent to create the '60s era. The sets are gorgeous, the costumes are elaborate and the pitch perfect art direction pays a beautiful ode to old Bombay, exactly how Special 26 did to old Delhi and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy to Kolkata. But something felt amiss.

You see, I tried liking this film. I really did. So when the movie opened with a young boy landing in Bombay with his bechari maa, I could see him slip into the underworld, the mother being sold to prostitute and all those things that happen in Hindi films that made people in the theatre go, "So dark, man. So hard-hitting." I wanted to hand each one of them a DVD of Being Cyrus or even a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron because dark doesn’t mean KJo’s half smirks.

But it’s an Anurag Kashyap film, with Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma, so I was like, let me not be too quick to judge. But then I lost all my patience when I saw Remo Fernandez. You will NOT believe, he plays a singer, from GOA! KIIIIIILLLLLL MEEEE GENTTTTLLYYYY!!!! I bet Emraan Hashmi hasn’t kissed in as many films as Remo has played a ‘singer’ from ‘Goa’ in Hindi films.  

There was also a double role, a photograph’s negative and my favourite- purani mill ke bechare workers, who --- hold your breath for this one --- are all ready to go for some strike/protest/rally!! I still tried my best to like the film and not complain, but the makers dropped a property scam that was so difficult to decipher that Chemistry’s periodic table in Class XII seemed like a cakewalk.

Balraj (Ranbir-papa-trending-on-Twitter-Kapoor) is a street thug who is ambitious and wants to be a ‘big shot’. His ambitions are used by Khambatta (Karan-darrrrrllingg-bana-dark-Johar) who runs a newspaper and is at loggerheads with Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhary), an editor of a rival newspaper. The real estate scam is a tussle between the capitalists and socialists is clear but what the deal is, what the stakes are, remain unexplored.

The film, though, is written well. There is an interesting scene where Anushka Sharma is lying to the cops and, in return, the cops sing ‘Jaane kya tune kahi, jaane kya maine suni.’ That brought a smile on my face. Also, the music by Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Battacharya is interestingly jazzy, becomes a part of the narrative but slows the film down to a turtle’s.

Ranbir Kapoor is as confident and Anushka as natural. Karan Johar tries hard, gets a few notes right, but is mostly unimpressive and unconvincing. The characters didn’t engage me. I neither felt their pain, struggles or moments of joy.

I couldn’t quite understand the purpose of the film. While Piku explored parents-children relationship and Dum Laga Ke Haisha the love story of a fat lady married to a tenth fail man, Bombay Velvet didn’t do much to me. What was the idea of Bombay Velvet, I couldn’t quite understand. It remained a story of a young ambitious man, his love story with the jazz singer and his ups and downs in the underworld.

Bombay Velvet is beautifully shot, beautifully acted, beautifully edited but remained beautifully boring!! Watch it if you are a Ranbir-Anushka fan. 


5 stars: Loved it. (This could make to top ten movies you must watch before you die!) 
4 stars: Liked it. Recommend it. (This will help you sound intellectual and give you stuff to add at water cooler conversations.)
3 stars: Didn’t hurt. Watch it once. 
2 stars: It put me to sleep. Watch it if you are an insomniac or a newly wedded couple. Winks!
1 star: Do I even need to explain this?