Does Bombay Talkies symbolize all that is Indian Cinema?

Four shorts – four acclaimed directors and one farce of a film called Bombay Talkies to celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema.

For those who have watched the accumulated shorts called Bombay Talkies each directed  by noted directors of repute – Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap, they must have walked out of the theatres with mixed feelings. BT had nothing new to offer. It was more of a caricature of the fans of Indian Cinema and no way a glowing tribute to the one religion that millions of Indians follow – Cinema.

Karan Johar who made his Bollywood debut with the romantic film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and went on to produce/direct countless other mushy love stories and family dramas went way off track with his version of a story starring highly talented Rani Mukherjee and Randeep Hooda who’s reinvented himself as an actor lately. Sadly, they are the only saving grace to the story that is as insipid as a raw banana (no pun intended). The basic premise of the story falls completely flat and what tears the short film apart is the caricature of a gay man. Karan definitely needs to do a complete recheck with reality. The story, the screenplay, the dialogues falls apart and its just the rendition of classical gems of a song like ‘Ajeeb Daastan Hai’ and the lead actors’ quest, that keeps you riveted to the screen.

And then you have Nawazzudin Siddiqui the surprise element of 2012. The man who established himself on the big screen with bit roles and then with his act of a singer at a wedding scene in Dev D followed by playing one of the main leads in acclaimed Gangs of Wasseypur, managed to keep Dibakar Banerjee’s story afloat in Bombay Talkies. A father who faces rejection in his professional life and yet his only objective is to see a smile on his daughter’s face. Again a cliche story but yet it keeps you hooked to an extent.

The best and most promisingly a film that symbolies Indian Cinema had to be Zoya Akhtar’s story; of a small boy who aspires to be a dancer just like his idol Katrina Kaif. For decades, Indian Cinema had exploited child artists like no other. We make feel-good films talking about abolishing child labour and yet in Indian Cinema, we not only have kids in demanding roles, we also have small boys enacting the roles of girls and vice versa since the early days of Indian Cinema.

Do we really understand the psychological impact of this gender crisis on the child as s/he grows up wearing mascara and makeup and sporting attires of the opposite sex? Well that’s a different take altogether. But this is one film that came close to the phenomenon called Indian Cinema and a rightful tribute to its 100 years.

And finally, ‘Murraba’ the fourth installment of Bombay Talkies from Anurag Kashyap. Yes, we have seen this since the advent of Indian Cinema. We have fans who worship their idols and are ready to go to the extreme for just catching a glimpse of their idol leaving aside feeding them their favorite Murraba. Somehow a good story lacked the depth to take home the point. The pain, the agony, the turmoil, the hardship that a fan endures to meet his idol didn’t really strike a cord with the viewers.

All said and done, Indian Cinema seems to have missed out terribly on making a mark on the international arena with the choice of its film at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.  There could definitely have been a better choice than Bombay Talkies. Your take?

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