Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)
A five-minute scene, sans dialogue, just before the interval. A shot of a man elated, reliving his magical day as the rest of the world goes about its own business – these five minutes alone make “Bombay Talkies” worth a watch.
Dibakar Banerjee’s segment, based on a Satyajit Ray short story, is evocative, sensitive, subtle and gets to the heart of why cinema brings magic into the most mundane of lives. And his film, dare I say it, is leagues ahead of the other three shorts in this portmanteau film.
Which is not to say the other three films aren’t gripping enough. Karan Johar surprises with his short film, avoiding clichés and extracting some great performances from his cast. Rani Mukerji plays the editor of a gossip magazine, in an arid marriage with her newscaster husband (Randeep Hooda, remarkably restrained). The presence of an intern (Saqib Saleem) in their lives alters it completely and brings to the fore uncomfortable truths.
There are some films that you watch, not because you want (as Vidya Balan claims in ‘The Dirty Picture’) “entertainment, entertainment, entertainment”, but because they are a reflection of the times we live in, and if these movies didn’t get made, these chaotic times wouldn’t be chronicled for eternity.
Dibakar Banerjee certainly seems determined to be that chronicler for India. In his fourth film “Shanghai”, Banerjee keeps the grittiness of “Love, Sex Aur Dhokha” or “Khosla Ka Ghosla“, but gets more ambitious, with his canvas, dealing with murkier issues like urbanisation, development and the politics of today’s India.