Beneath the sequins and larger than life headpieces that sit on Rosie’s head (which were all fricking awesome by the way – the costume design by Shivan and Narresh is top notch) is a rather dark tale of abuse, abandonment and ambition. Whilst combining all three would defeat most filmmakers, Kashyap attacks with trademark gutso and actually does a respectable job in bringing all these elements together in Bombay Velvet.
The first half in particular builds up a satisfying momentum and one can see the influence directors like Scorsese have had on Kashyap as the underdog Balraj rises from the dust to a self-promised nadir of achievement. So it is a shame the second half of BV falters – it felt to me that somewhere along the line, there was doubt in the premise and that shows in the final product – the turn Balraj-Rosie’s story takes post interval is an example of that.
Kapoor turns in a good performance, working hard to tap into Balraj’s psyche and giving him a deranged quality of sorts. I also liked that he makes the character vulnerable, even if the script doesn’t entirely give space for that. Sharma is also good but I felt she loses focus which is more down to the direction the story takes which seems at odds with her journey in the first half. Johar has some great moments and to be fair, does well for what is quite an intense role. Menon and Choudary give good accounts of themselves and keep the standard high across the board.
In spite of its shortcomings, I liked Bombay Velvet. Kashyap’s magnum opus is by no means perfect but thanks to all the hype and hysteria surrounding the film during its making and subsequent release, it seems many people are expecting a game-changer of sorts. Whilst BV is not that, it is a film which does not really have any companion (especially in the commercial Hindi film sphere) and is very much a unique offering in that only Kashyap could make a film like this in this way. Now, how many films can we attribute that quality to these days? Worth a watch.