Amid colonial hangover, prohibition, murky deals and tabloid wars, Anurag Kashyap’s latest directorial venture ‘Bombay Velvet’ unfolds an intense love story of an ambitious street fighter and jazz singer.
Ever since Anurag Kashyap announced his plans of producing and directing Bombay Velvet — an ambitious saga of love and crime set in the metropolis in the 60s — there has been lots of speculation regarding its casting and content. The interest in the project increased manifold once Ranbir Kapoor was roped in as its lead actor. Later Anushka Sharma and Karan Johar joined the cast, taking its star quotient several notches higher. And this ended up being Anurag Kashyap’s first star-studded film.
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The stories of the extensive research lasting over five years that has gone into writing its screenplay; a massive set created painstakingly over nine months in Sri Lanka; the detailing that has gone into creating the costumes true to the period; and the jazz-inspired music composer Amit Trivedi has been working on since 2009 have kept interest in the movie afloat. However, after it failed to keep its original release date — November 28, 2014 — due to incomplete post-production works, speculation about how the movie has shaped up been rife. It has escalated following the news of the movie being re-edited by auteur Martin Scorsese’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
After watching a preview of this magnum opus, we have compiled a list of things to look forward to ahead of its release in theatres on May 15.
Ranbir Kapoor: Big shot
The role of Johnny Balraj — an impulsive and aggressive street rat driven by the blinding ambition of becoming a “big shot” — seems tailor-made for Kapoor. Describing the experience of acting in Bombay Velvet as “suicidal-y delicious”, he says: “Just the experience of working on that set, with a group of very talented people, the world of the 1960s that was created — was all very fascinating.” Undoubtedly, he has worked hard on delivering a convincing performance of a person, who is hounded by his turbulent past and working hard on building a bright future. With his fluffy mop, he makes for a perfect lover-boy. He is agile as he engages in boxing bouts with a Japanese fighter. Given his character’s quicksilver temper, he often bares the ruthless, hot-headed hitman in him. However, the image of him that stayed in my mind is that of Kapoor with blazing Tommy guns in each hands, unleashing his fury on his assailants.
Anushka Sharma: The songstress
When Anushka Sharma aka Rosie Norhana enters the movie, she is a young woman trying to escape the abuse she has been subjected to since childhood. Once she lands in Bombay from Goa, she learns the ways of a big city as quickly as she gets rid of her upper lip hair. Her character follows an impressive graph — from working at a beauty parlour while moonlighting as a singer in a nondescript club to becoming the lead jazz singer at an elite club called Bombay Velvet. And that’s the job she seems to have taken quite seriously — from working with choreographer Ashley Lobo to get the body language of a jazz artiste right to spending time with playback singer Neeti Mohan to get a sense of the notes as well as Neeti’s pauses and breathing. Small wonder, Rishi Kapoor said that after a long time he watched someone singing, not just lip-synching.
An impressive ensemble cast:
Assembling an enviable cast has been one of Anurag Kashyap’s fortes. We have witnessed that in a number of his directorial ventures, including Black Friday, Gulaal, Gangs of Wasseypur and, more recently, in Ugly. And he invariably uses them brilliantly and extracts memorable performances from them — be it Piyush Mishra in Gulaal or Girish Kulkarni in Ugly. Ditto in Bombay Velvet, where the canvas is so wide. Kay Kay Menon, who has already proven to be a wonderful supporting actor in Black Friday and Gulaal, returns as a cop on a cat-and-mouse chase. He has a ramrod straight body and strong screen presence. Former corporate lawyer-turned-actor Satyadeep Mishra makes his debut as Chimman Chopra and wins hearts with an earnest performance. Vivaan Shah, Siddhartha Basu, Manish Chaudhary and Karan Johar contribute to make sure that Bombay Velvet’s supporting cast remains top-notch. My favourite moment, however, was watching Raveena Tondon make a brief appearance as a jazz singer — flaunting an elaborate peacock headgear, a gown with matching motif and cleavage that’s a heart-stopper.
Jazz it up:
The soul of Bombay Velvet is its music. Each song has a story and Kashyap weaves them into the narrative seamlessly. Yeh Kya Kiya Sylvia makes a social statement with its reference to the famous Nanavati case. Dhadkane Goonjati Dhadam Dhadam is a song which even though captures the acute pain of heartbreak gives the audience feel a emotion that’s so raw yet moving. The successful trio of Kashyap, composer Amit Trivedi and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya attempt to showcase the basic essence is authentic jazz with a delightful touch of the old-world vibe. They have even coined the name ‘Hindi Jazz’ for the kind of sound they have composed. They never for once waver from the fact that the movie is set in the 60s. Yet, they make it amazingly contemporary. Mohan should take a bow for the amazing rendition of songs that Sharma performs. Sharma has been effusive in her praise for Mohan and believes that the efforts of the singer and Trivedi should come to the forefront. Listeners should soak in the jazz beats and allow some time for the songs to grow on them.
Soon after releasing the trailers of Bombay Velvet, the team released a 7-minute video of its making. This gives a fair idea about the attention to detail that has gone into it as well as the making of its extensive set. Starting from the vintage cars, chandeliers to picking up the right matchbox. It is a real joy to study the detailing that has gone into creating the world of Bombay Velvet. Costume is as integral to this period drama as production design. While each actor has a distinct sartorial style, Sharma’s wardrobe is most stunning, thanks to the enormous efforts put in by Niharika Khan and her team of 13. Sharma says that she was the one to take maximum time on the sets to get ready. At times, she had four assistants to help her carry the gown she was donning. And because of the heavy and elaborate gowns she wore, she had the privilege of having the largest washroom on the set.