You can count on Anurag Kashyap for being as distinctive as he can be. In fact, I would say that his movies fit into a genre all by themselves. It should be acknowledged that his effort was better than average and rather valiant (given the amount of investment in the film), but failed to hit the spot despite the stellar cast and stand-out production elements.
Critique & Plot:
The story is based on a novel by Gyan Prakash titled Mumbai Fables. It highlights the lives of inhabitants of Mumbai [which was called as Bombay then] and how the socio-economic conditions prevalent then drove them to doing the things they did. Bang in the middle of this setting are our protagonists who will fall in love (whether planned or not). Going by the names of Johnny Balraj (played Ranbir Kapoor) and Rosie Noronha (played by Anushka Sharma), our protagonists represent two different individuals who set out with a strong dream to make it in the big city. Both played the perfect foil characters to each other as they come from difficult childhoods to playing at the high-stakes table literally and figuratively. Their love story, though passionate, does not get the happy ending it (arguably) deserves.
It was quite astounding to see director Karan Johar (playing Kaizad Khambata) as the lead antagonist in the film. For his first substantial part in a film, he acted with great honesty and panache. Ranbir Kapoor plays this maniac (bordering on manic) and ambitious street fighter who wants to be the biggest cheese in town. Ranbir Kapoor delivers passionate performance and is steadily building the Kapoor legacy to a much greater point and his father or uncles left it.
Anushka Sharma, brings a lot to a character which was rather waywardly written. Her on-screen antiques for the song Dhadam Dhadam is nothing short of brilliant. Kay Kay Menon (as Inspector Vishwas Kulkarni), Manish Choudhary (as Jamshed Mistry), Satyadeep Misra (as Chimman) and Siddhartha Basu (as Romy Patel) had small but significant roles.
The Velvet In The Velvet:
The director could have reduced about 30-40 mins of this ambitious saga to make it a much tighter and coherent tale. With Sonal Sawant’s excellent production design, a stand-out jazz soundtrack by Amit Trivedi and honest performances by a stellar cast, Bombay Velvet is only let down by its plot which does not lead anywhere. The love story angle is over-played, leaving you wanting more of how Bombay developed into the metropolis it is.
Bombay Velvet is about this weird combination of fancy tables and chairs [which are the rich money throwers, enjoying their lives] with illiterate waiters [who are poor workers who do all the dirty work for these rich people]. Don’t go for this interminable flick or well, if you do, then look for the silver linings. There are quite a few of them!