By Lata Jha:
A hundred years of magicalÂ fairy tales.Â A hundred years of coy glances,unabashed romance, some delightful songs and a lot of dancing around trees. A hundred years of storytelling, laughter and tears. A hundred years of losing yourself to the movies in a dark room every week.
Despite all of which, Indian cinema has a really long way to go. We, as people in love with these movies, know and accept that. And yet, our hearts swell with pride each time a little gem of a film makes a difference to our film viewing experiences one fine weekend. It’s a milestone in the long, endless journey that is our cinema.
Bombay Talkies is the perfect tribute to the magic of our movies on hundred years of their existence. What makes it even more special is that it’s the coming-of-age cinemaÂ we’veÂ finally begun to see in our country. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s rooted. There’s empathy, sensitivity, and yet great feistinessÂ in its storytelling.Â You’veÂ seen the four filmmakers do some amazing work earlier, but it does not get better than this. In four segments of about 25 minutes each, you appreciate how lovingly the four directors have construed all that our flawed world is about.
Karan Johar’s marital drama with Rani Mukherjee, Randeep Hooda and newcomer Saqib Saleem is so natural in its approach, you wonder if this guy has ever made a rom-com, or if he’s ever shot a colourful, catchy dance sequence with five hundred junior artists. He’s that brave with this one. Besides impressive performances by his lead actors, his use of Madan Mohan’s Lag Ja Gale is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Dibakar Banerjee’s section is about this one-man army. Nawazuddin Siddique is an actor we need to rise up and applaud. The timid looking guy is a chameleon when it comes to work. Watch him transform from the tough cop in Kahaani to this struggler whose only ambition in life is to be seen in the movies. As he gets one passing shot in a film he happens to come watch the shoot of, he asks for a newspaper and a pair of spectacles to add his own touch to the character who’s in the frame for less than five seconds. Typical Dibakar, thought provoking and sensitive to the core.
Zoya Akhtar’s is a children’s film with the hugest twist you could imagine. All my fifteen years of film viewing makes me wonder how she managed to extract this effortless performance from that child actor, Naman Jain. The boy is a marvel. He’s not just the cute button you want to cuddle, his is an excruciatingly difficult role of a boy whose aspirations in life differ from other kids, mostly boys his age.
Anurag Kashyap’s, though the weakest bit in these two hours, according to me, is a compelling tale. Of innocence, admiration, passion and persistence. His Wasseypur find, Vineet Kumar Singh will make you cry. You know theseÂ aren’tÂ actors who traipse on to the set in the morning, asking for dialogue.Â They’veÂ lived with these characters. They make you proud of such cinema having been produced in your country.
Rajeev Ravi weaves the tale meticulously with his cinematography. One visual I carried home with me was towards the end of Dibakar’s section, a long shot of Nawazuddin’s chawl juxtaposed against a posh high rise in Mumbai, signifying the many unsung tales that thrive alongside the success stories in the same city.
Amit Trivedi’s music is subtle, simple and absolutely splendid. Something like ‘Give it up for Bachchan’ could’ve easily been a drag, but it stays with you. It bears testimony to all that the legend means to us, that his impact goes beyond the darkÂ theater.
Bombay Talkies is a proud moment. It reinforces one’s belief in the power and magic of our movies. In our ability to tell tales of substance. Despite the whole load of garbage we tend to produce (often incessantly), there’s still scope for mature, mellow storytelling.
Do not miss this one for the world.