Bombay Velvet Movie Poster
Bombay Velvet Movie Poster

Rating: 3/5 Stars (Three stars)

Star Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Vivaan Shah, Kay Kay Menon, Karan Johar, Siddharth Basu

Director: Anurag Kashyap

What’s Good: Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet is a visual treat. Excellently presenting the bygone era, you truly traverse into the 1960s Bombay. The smokey alleys of the red light district, mill worker unions and the rising media barons all compliment to a story that breathes Bombay’s upheaval to become Mumbai in the coming years.

What’s Bad: Coming from a director like Kashyap who in the past has developed our taste buds for realistic cinema, his first attempt at a commercial film seems too cliched. Settling for filmy story, what ruins this film is a botched up second half. Post-interval, the film loses its hold as the plot weakens.

Loo break: Bet one would suffice!

Watch or Not?: Bombay Velvet is like a fake gold jewelry, it shines bright with its look and feel, and performances but inside is a not-so-polished plot that is evident beyond all its pomp and jazz. So if you are a true Anurag Kashyap Fan, you may not like his commercial bend, but overall the film is worth a watch for is grandiose.

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Bombay Velvet kicks off in 1949 when a young Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) alights from a train which is his first tryst with Bombay. Balraj accompanied by his foster mother who seeks prostitution as a means for survival and raises Balraj under morally questionable circumstances. Young Balraj meets a local lad Chiman (Satyadeep Misra) who is a pick pocketer and soon as they turn old, Balraj and Chiman indulge smuggling for survival. Inspired by watching an English classic, Balraj becomes obsessed to become a ‘big-shot’ and this crazy aspiration of him is about to take him places. He also earns money by participating in street fights which he never wins. Just when Balraj is dreaming of becoming of bigshot, he sets eyes on Rosie (Anushka Sharma) who has an equally grave past and is new to the city where she is struggling, making up her livelihood singing in a Jazz club. It is love at first sight for the Romeo and now he has only two dreams – becoming a bigshot and having Rosie in his arms.

In an unexpected twist of fate, Balraj and Chiman meet Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar) who is a newspaper baron. It is Kaizad who gives wings to Balraj’s dreams and even names him Johnny.

What follows is a twisted tale of greed, love, double-crossing and betrayals.

Anushka Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor in a still from movie 'Bombay Velvet'
Anushka Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor in a still from movie ‘Bombay Velvet’

Bombay Velvet Review: Script Analysis

Based on Gyan Prakash’s book Mumbai Fables, Bombay Velvet paints a distinct picture of then Bombay. If the pictorials are any less, the film’s plot dealing with blackmail over negatives of photographs and newspaper editors giving orders of ‘stop press’ is enough to take you back to the bygone era. The first half of the film comes off quite strong and clear as we are introduced to Balraj and Rosie’s past. The love story is taut and rarely do we find such writing when it comes to love affairs. There are no big comic elements in the film but indirect references to Karan Johar’s sexual preferences will certainly make you cough, especially the reason why he names Balraj as Johnny or also when he says ‘Rosie mein aisa kya hai jo mere paas nahi’. If the writers have a certain madness on Balraj’s character, on the other hand Rosie’s character is completely pity-some as she is more often than not been with dominating men who expect her to fulfill their demands. The first half seems lengthy but it is definitive of all the characters. The second half on the other hand gets too filmy. The dialogues are not particularly hard hitting and you may take only a few one liners home.

Bombay Velvet Review: Star Performances

Ranbir Kapoor is impressive as the slightly mad and obsessive Johnny Balraj. His anger is scary and his love is extreme. Ranbir makes up for a convincing hero and in spite of him being a thug, there is still some naivety in his character that draws you towards him. Post Roy, I would definitely say Ranbir is back to being his best.

Anushka Sharma’s bee-stung lips actually get a meaning in this film. Other than looking sheer gorgeous, her attempt at playing Rosie the singer is praiseworthy. She lipsyncs Dhadam Dhadam with such intensity that you forget the fact that she is just lip-syncying.

Karan Johar makes his Bollywood debut with this film and well Kaizad Khambatta is high on the classy quotient. Karan surprises us with his cold-blooded streak as he munches on food whilst Balraj is being bashed in front of him. In one particular scene we see him break into an uncontrollable laugh and that scene will have you in splits too.

Satyadeep Misra as Chiman gives a terrific performance. He is impressive as the friend who sees the rise and fall of Balraj and sticks with him through thick and thin.

Vivaan Shah as Tony, Rosie’s over smart driver is amazing. His body language is perfect and in that brief role, he leaves a mark.

Manish Chaudhary too is remarkable as Jamshed/Jimmy Mistry, Kaizad’s competitor. The cigar smoking editor that he plays is strong but due to a convoluted plot, his motives remain slightly unclear.

Amongst the strong supporting cast, Kay Kay Menon and Sidharth Basu are well refined in their roles.

Bombay Velvet Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay

Anurag Kashyap is a true storyteller and this time he shows us a Gangs Of Wasseypur which is jazzed up with clubs, cigars, vintage cars and Tommy guns. Kashyap is successful in drawing us into this warped love story in the first half but loses his grip in the second. He tries to put too many characters and elements to an actually simplistic and cliched story and that is where the film lacks content wise. When it comes to the art direction, the film is top notch and in fact it could be termed as one of the best retro representations so far.

You truly travel in the bygone era and Bombay Velvet the club in itself looks beguiling. The costumes too are ravishing and well presented. As mentioned earlier, the film is a visual treat thanks to the neatly managed cinematography. The scene where Johnny goes berserk with anger and is on a bullet firing spree with his gun laden hands is brilliantly shot and we clearly see Kashyap’s inspiration from Martin Scorsese and Tarantino. He even adds elements from the films by Coen Brothers who have made fortunes on films of such genres. Last but not the least, Amit Trivedi’s music works wonders as most songs are situational. Also a ravishing Raveena Tandon who gives a cameo for two songs makes them even more endearing to hear.

Bombay Velvet Review: The Last Word

Bombay Velvet is a visually enjoyable period drama. The love story is taut, chemistry is sizzling but thanks to an overstretched plot and a cliched second half, the film disappoints a little. I am going with a 3/5 for this film.

Bombay Velvet Trailer

Bombay Velvet releases on 15th May, 2015.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. hi ,
    This movie is a simple example of how to make a bad movie.
    I am surprised with koimoi with its 3 star rating and it shows that you guyz are also horribly influenced with starcast.
    sad and i expect more real reviews from koimoi.

    good luck
    DP

  2. Great movie!! definitely has some flaws but much better than other brainless flicks….Indian audience are not worthy of such films though as they would be drooling over movies like ‘Gabbar’. Many RK haters are over enthusiastic in bashing the movie even without watching it.

    • ash king dont forget bollywood films are made mainly for indian audience we watch films only for entertainment and anurag forgot this

  3. To make a stylish thriller for Indian audience by following Hollywood movies is not new. But today many old Hindi films are there to refer to for the young filmmakers. Anurag Kashyap could not make a film for the masses which is also classy at the same time. For example Vijay Anand made thrillers like Jewel thief, Teesri Manzil and other movies which were sophisticated and classy. Then there was Guru Dutt who started with thrillers of his times like Baazi and Jaal then went ahead with movies like Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and others. Anurag Should should taken clue from these movie makers for making a commercially viable thriller although Bombay Velvet is classy but not sure will succeed at box office.

  4. A MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT! That’s how I would describe “Bombay Velvet” I really expected to see a a very good movie with fine acting by its actors/actresses.Instead I got only 50%,in that the acting was generally good with Ranbir being exceptional as expected.Even Karan Johar was good in his very limited role.But the movie was long,extremely slow and boring,creaky and genuinely horrible except for the screenplay which was outstanding.Anurag was able to present Bombay in the 40’s,50’s,60’s and 1970 beautifully.As a matter of fact it looked much better then than it does look now.AK makes realistic movies,but he himself needs to be realistic.His movies tend to drag aimlessly,thus causing the viewer to become desperately and frustratingly eager to make a mad dash for the door! Even the songs were useless! All in all a very very bad movie and definitely not worth watching at all!
    PS.This is Ranbir’s 3rd dud in a row! Besharam-Roy-Bombay Velvet!

  5. Only Aim is to make Black Money White , even if they invest 120 cr in this project , even if they make 70 cr , it is great , for them

  6. I have noticed critics give 3 or 4 star ratings to anurag kashyap directed films all these films fails miserably at box office B Velvet is biggest disaster of decade its business will be less than small films Yaarian and Hate story 2 whenever one think of Velvet soft n soothing comes in mind but BV is harsh like sand paper

  7. The basic formula to have hit movie for Indian audience is some comedy, some lover story, copied action scenes from Tamil movies, and 1,2 item songs. This movie (BV) is classic style movie, only quality brain can digest.

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