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.
At one point in Zoya Akhtar’s film, the three protagonists are sitting in a bar in Spain, celebrating the fact that they have just completed a daring sky-diving adventure, when one of them (Hrithik Roshan) starts talking about an old Doordarshan ad. He talks about the music, how the logo would unfold and finally, is asked by another protagonist — “Yeah, but could you please get to the point?”
That could be the tagline for the whole film. Don’t believe the filmmakers when they say “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” is not a rehash of Farhan Akhtar’s “Dil Chahta Hai”. It tries to re-create the same coming-of-age effect, the same clever lines, but with half the success of the earlier film.
And that’s not just because he is brilliant in the part — he is. But the scenes capture perfectly the subtle performances and nuanced characters this film is bursting with.