September 16, 2020
Indian cinema celebrates one hundred years with Bombay Talkies. This collaboration brings together four directors that are unique in their own direction. Their stories are different. And their approach to storytelling is distinctive. But overall the movie lacks in grabbing attention.
Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap bring you four short stories with a different approach to storytelling. Bombay Talkies covers topics like gender identity and children and discovering sexual identity. While the other two covers simple representation of epiphany and fulfillment of ding needs. The short stories are very raw. In the sense of being set in real-time.
Karan Johar’s Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh
Stepping away from his deep intense love stories, Karan Johar brings a new take on love that covers sexual identity. A young boy (Avinash) struggling to explain to his dad that he is gay is what the movie opens with. The story follows Avinash befriending Gayatri. A woman of oozing passion that lacks intense sexual relations with her husband. What follows is the growing fondness Avinash has for her husband.
It is a bold move for Indian cinema to cover a topic like this. But Karan Johar does a decent job of not overdramatizing the script. Moreover, it is not easy to tell a story when you have a limited time frame to cover all aspects of the story.
Dibakar Banerjee’s Star
This story steps away from the LGBTQ topic and talks about a simple family who is unable to make ends meet. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the role of an unemployed father who stumbles upon a film set to land a small role in the film. Just before his small part, Purandar (Siddiqui) finds an old actor in a dumpster who reminds him of his earlier hopes of becoming an actor. What catches your attention is how the story ends.
In an earlier scene, the director shows how he fails to provide new bedtime stories to his kid. As the story ends, the father has an exciting personal experience to share with his kid. As soon as he is done with work, he does not even bother to collect his payment. But he just wants to tell his family how his day went.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is exceptional as always. His performance looks real and believable. He takes the story forward as effortlessly as possible.
Zoya Akhtar’s Sheila Ki Jawaani
This one is something to look forward to. The casting puts a huge smile on your face. And the story conveys an eye-opening message. The story opens with a bunch of kids telling us what they want to be when they grow up. Vicky is one such kid who has a completely different ambition from the rest. Director Zoya Akhtar subtly advances the script. She starts off by showing how Vicky is forced into playing football when in contrast he wants to do something else. He idolizes a celebrity, Katrina Kaif. And wishes to become like her when he grows up.
As innocent as kids are, Vicky doesn’t seem to realize his ambitions are a change in his personality. Zoya really knows how to portray gender identity in children in a very sweet and simple way. This one really keeps you wanting for more.
The kids are sweet and their innocent is not tampered with at any point. Even when Vicky gets up on stage for his first as a female dancer moving to Katrina’s Sheila Ki Jawaani.
Anurag Kashyap’s Murabba
The movie ends on a deeply emotional journey of a son trying to fulfill his father’s dying wish. Vijay, played by Vineet Kumar Singh takes off on a journey to Bombay to meet a famous Hindi movie actor, Amitabh Bachchan. What he wants from the actor is very simple. Vijay’s father is a huge fan of the actor and wants him to try his wife murabba (a sweet pickle of sorts). As his dying wish, Vijay sets off to fulfill this desire.
He faces a lot of trouble to get in touch with the actor. The struggle gets frustrating and to a level very emotional. Vineet plays the role with utmost simplicity. He comes off as a real lower-middle-class boy from Allahabad. Not knowing how things work in the city.
Vineet’s performance is so touching. And so real. You tend to feel his pain as yourself. As the movie ends his goal is finally accomplished. But not all stories have a happy ending. And neither does this. When he gets home, his father knows something is up. Even though he tried to cover it up. But at this point, there is nothing anyone can do.
Overall Bombay Talkies is an interesting watch. And the directors have portrayed it very simplistically. The scripts cover LGBTQ topics as well as others. But the main story to look out for in Bombay Talkies is Zoya Akhtar’s Sheila Ki Jawanni.
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