If I try to draw comparisons between Martin Scorsese's 1990-blockbuster Goodfellas and our very own Kashyapish Bombay Velvet, they will look like twins, though born in different eras. While the former has already proved itself a masterpiece, the latter simply looks like a wanna-be to that classic.
No wonder that Director Anurag Kashyap credits Mr. Scorsese during the initial credits. He seriously attempts to replicate the master's magic in order to weave out a rather clichÃ©d film. The 60's era looks spectacular; the jazz music (wonderfully composed by Amit Trivedi) throws in an indispensable nostalgia; the Italian costume designs nudge us back to the good-old mobster classics -- everything looks gorgeous in this fantastical post independence Bombay.
But how long you could stare at something beautiful without being talked back to. Bombay Velvet lays itself somewhere in that category, where a beautiful art fails to form a viable communication with its spectator.
The problem lies within the screenplay, oddly written and interweaved with no complex empathy towards the characters. The First Act seems to be the only good asset, where characters are build impressively; wonderfully focusing on traits and motives that build up the next act.
But it is where the narrative loses its pace. Writers -- Vasan Bala, Anurag Kashyap, Gyan Prakash and Thani -- fails to live up to our expectations of genuine conflicts (something Kashyap spectacularly created in the Gangs of Wasseypur duo-logy). We therefore face a regular Bollywood-clichÃ©d tale, where twins arrive out of no where, murders get overdone, songs take over the impressions, and suspenses are injected for the sake of injecting.
Even the ride seems slow and boring at places, the actors make sure to impress us whenever they are allowed to. Ranbir Kapoor (as Johnny "Big Shot" Balraj) conveys madness with style, never losing the grip of the character and giving us a memorable performance. Anushka Sharma (as Rosie) plays a perfect eye-candy amid the distasteful mafia wars. Watch her emoting a sad song with such conviction that it might have reminded Ranbir of his Jordan act in Rockstar. She owns the voice of her playback singer, literally.
Among the supporting actors, only Satyadeep Mishra (as Balraj's childhood friend Chimman) makes a long lasting impact. While other talents (Kay Kay Menon, Manish Chaudhary, and Vivaan Shah) amply justify their skills in their limited screen time. A special mention for Karan Johar for pulling out a calm and restraint act. The script however doesn't allow his Kaizad Khambatta to emote further than a relaxed homosexual mobster.
On whole, I do not want to call Bombay Velvet a bad movie; in fact it is far better than the regular nonsense we are served on most of the Fridays. But being a true Kashyap fan, I believe Bombay Velvet to be only an iota of his previous works, created to prey further on the mainstream audience, with only style but no substance.