Bombay Talkies is a four-part series of short films celebrating the centennial of Bollywood cinema. Each story features a different director and aspect of Bollywood life. From the sorrow of a life lived without truth to the joy of a dream realized, each story takes us on an emotional journey.
Each short film tells a discrete story meant to evoke the emotional depth of Bollywood cinema.
In the first film, directed by Karan Johar, we meet a young homosexual reporter who befriends a female coworker. The emotional tone is set with the song Ajeeb Daastan Hai Yeh from the movie Dil Apana Aur Preet Paraayi. The coworker’s husband turns out to be homosexual and makes advances toward the reporter, with devastating consequences. This film is well done with the exception of the awkward edit of the kissing scene between the two potential lovers.
In the second film, directed by Dibakar Banerjee, a middle-age father down on his luck gets a chance at stardom when he wins a walk-on as the “guy who bumps into the hero.” Naturally, the hero is Ranbir Kapoor. The film wrestles with the nature of our dreams and the reality of their realization.
In the third film, directed by Zoya Akhtar, we meet a young boy whose father dreams of cricket glory while the boy dreams of dancing like Katrina Kaif. The boy decides to follow his dream and helps his sister realize hers in the process.
In the final film, directed by Anurag Kashyap, we follow one man’s quest to convince Amitabh Bachchan to taste his father’s murabba, an Indian sweet. For those unfamiliar with Bollywood, Bachchan is the Indian equivalent of Robert DeNiro, so you can imagine how challenging that quest would be. Ultimately, we watch a sweet tale of family devotion and hope.
Interestingly, although a classic Bollywood song features in the first film, none of these films uses the classic Bollywood trope of the spontaneous dance sequence. When a dance occurs in the third film, it’s contextually relevant. The realism of these films is a refreshing departure from the typical Bollywood blockbuster, like Jai Ho.
The title song sequence at the end features many of Bollywood’s biggest stars and ends with the reigning king of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan. The chords that introduce him are from the opening of Tujhe Dekha To Ye Jaana Sanam from his most famous film, DDLJ.
My only disappointment with this movie was the lack of subtitles for the songs and the strange instance in which Marathi was translated into Hindi, but the Hindi was not subtitled into English.