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Bringing four different desparate voices of cinema today together in one film, Bombay Talkies celebrates not Bollywood and its stars, but the one person who makes Hindi cinema what it is Friday after Friday, the Audience. Four stories comprise this nuanced and balanced anthology that bring to fore the idea of being a cinema goer, the emotions that cinema stirs in you as a common man paying to watch the stars. Bollywood couldn't have asked for a better start to its centenary.
The film starts as if coursing the landscape of cinema citizens of this country. Starting with those aloof, Karan Johar's story is about a Gay intern in office who manages to break the lie that his bosses marriage is by bringing her husband out of the closet. Sans his trademark melodrama and gloss candy floss, KJo spins a tale that is sensitive, stark, real and layered. Rani, Saqib and Randeep dig into well crafted roles with elan, while KJo himself sets the tone with vintage Hindi film songs. A testimony to the fact that even if you have seen just three four odd films in a movie theatre, Hindi cinema still touches your life if only through its music.
Dibakar Bannerjee's short, based on Satyajit Rays Potlu Babu Filmstar, takes you further into the world of a theatre actor who tells films as bedtime stories to his bedridden daughter. Through the brilliantly talented Nawazzuddin, Dibakar channelizes the pain of ambition stiffled and dreams sqaushed by life and its ways. Sadashiv Amprapurkar takes the story to a surreal realm showing a mirror to all those scenes we as audiences have enacted in real lives or identified with, blurring the lines between living a life and acting it out in reality.
Zoya Akhtar takes you down the lane of childhood and nostalgia. Every kid had a filmstar for a hero an idol. Her story about a young boy who dreams of being a dancer like Katrina Kaif, symbolises how in a society starved of idols , filmstars and their real and reel success stories are what guide us through kindergartens to adoloscence till we find adulthood and for many the magic of cinema gets quelled by the rigmarole that life is.
Yet for some, the magic endures, and that is depicted in Anurag Kashyap's short about a man wanting Amitabh Bachchan to taste murraba his mom made at the wish of his dad. Anurag deftly and typical to his style encompasses the way audiences make living gods out of matinee idols. Amitabh, not in the least undesrving of the status, also is a metaphor for NTR, MGR and Rajkumar Rajnikanth down south, who are part of lives of crores without even having met them once. Such is the magic and power that cinema yields in this film crazy nation.
There is the cusotmary item song in the end credits, where photoshopped stars living and dead appear for fleeting ten seconds in gaudy clothes doing silly gestures. Nonetheless, as you hoot or skip a beat as your favorite star comes on screen in the song, something happens. The star talks to you, even if for those ten second, telling you as if that the worlds a lovely place for as long as you and the star are eye to eye. That is the magic of cinema that Bombay Talkies so enagingly encapsulates in the four stories. Bollywood is too diverse and too crazy to be summed up in four shorts. What is the triumph of this film is to acnkowldege instead those millions who let Bollywood rule. Catch this in the theatres you will not regret it.