Bombay Talkies Movie Review by Rajeev Masand

Rating: 3.5

May 03, 2013

Cast: Rani Mukherjee, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Naman Jain, Ranvir Shorey, Vineet Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan

Dirs: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar & Anurag Kashyap

Two men shift nervously, seldom making eye contact, as they listen to a beggar girl at a railway station footbridge singing an old Lata Mangeshkar gem whose words seem to have particular significance in their unlikely situation. A father, determined to enthrall his bored daughter, narrates a story in mime, his energy palpable, his excitement contagious. A little boy, attired in his sister’s dress and his mother’s make-up and heels, shakes his hips to the beats of a popular dance number, blissfully naïve to the likely reaction of his family. And a young out-of-towner is reduced to tears as he pleads earnestly to the security guards manning the gates of a superstar’s home for one meeting with the legend. It’s these images that linger in your mind long after you’ve watched Bombay Talkies, a charming omnibus of four short films that celebrate the centenary year of Indian cinema.

The stories, each roughly thirty minutes in duration, have no common link, except for a shared love and celebration of the movies. In Karan Johar’s film, Rani Mukherjee and Randeep Hooda are an urban couple in a passionless marriage. A friendship with the new intern at her workplace (Saqib Saleem) leads to a disturbing revelation about Rani’s relationship with her distant husband. Uncharacteristically mature for a film by Johar, and bristling with uncomfortable honesty, this story benefits from solid acting, sharp dialogue, and the fitting use of two evergreen music numbers. Despite its predictable resolution, the film is deeply affecting.

Dibakar Banerjee’s film, based on a short story by Satyajit Ray, stars the terrific Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a one-time theatre actor and failed entrepreneur seeking a job – any job – in an unforgiving city. When he strays into a film shoot one day and lands a bit part, he has a life-changing epiphany. Banerjee’s film subtly weaves in the magic of cinema and the dedication of an artiste, while setting the story in the ordinariness of everyday life. The director’s strength is in capturing real moments and it’s accentuated in this achingly beautiful narrative.

In Zoya Akhtar’s story, a little boy (Naman Jain) finds his true calling in a darkened cinema hall, when he watches Katrina Kaif gyrate to Sheila ki jawaani. It’s his indefinable connection to the actress that helps the boy understand that it’s okay to chase his dream, however strange it may seem to everyone around him. Through this sweet story, Akhtar also extracts touching performances from the kid and his older sister.

Anurag Kashyap’s ode to a cinematic legend ties up this omnibus neatly. His film is centered on a youth from Allahabad, Vijay (Vineet Kumar), seeking an audience with Amitabh Bachchan, determined to make the star taste his mother’smurabba in a that he cradles carefully over days. Vijay camps outside Bachchan’s house, just so he can fulfill his father’s outlandish dream. Kashyap blends extraordinary comic touches with pathos, showing the love, the devotion reserved for a cinematic idol. And yet, here again, life plays an even bigger role than cinema, as seen in the film’s interesting end.

You may have a favorite amongst the four stories, because yes, this is cinema, and it touches different chords in different individuals. But there’s no denying that Bombay Talkies is a breath of fresh air – a wonderful gift to audiences on the 100th birthday of Indian cinema. I’m going with three and half out of five for Bombay Talkies. Through four consummate storytellers, we’re reminded just how much the movies mean to us.


  1. sameer 11 years ago

    The first story is a sham. It shows the gay character played by Saqib Saleem in very bad light. First he tries to seduce his friend Rani’s husband Randeep Hooda. Then when Randeep is attracted to him and has a problem accepting it, Saqib goes and feels it necessary to go and tell his friend Rani as he feels if he does not, then it will be deceiving her, if he does not tell her about her husbands inclination. What shit . He did not feel that he deceived Rani when he made a pass at Randeep.If Saqib is honest means well then he should not have behaved as he did.If A=B and B=C the A should = C. This movie is a let down for all gays, as it shows that all gays do is seduce anyone they know and break up their marriage and homes. When will India make a true good and honest film on these lines.. like Brokeback Mountain. And when will critics like you stop praising such stupid, illogical stories. I liked the short story by Zoya and the last story by Anurag Kashap as there was some logic.

  2. Bored 11 years ago

    Karan Johar has made a film about himself, SRK and Gauri …

  3. Baba 11 years ago

    Naseerudin shah : only aamirs work will survive the test of time

  4. Ankur 11 years ago

    Naseer saab’s statement needs a correction! Only Aamir’s “post 2000 work will survive the test of time”.

    His filmography has nothing exceptional to offer before Lagaan except AAA and to some extent JJWS.

  5. yakuza 11 years ago

    I would like to add ‘Mann’ as well among Aamir’s good work. And post 2000 .. i would like to exclude Mangal Pandey, Fanaa and Ghajini (Even Talash was just good).
    Sometime i think Aamir perfectionist image is just a myth .. he has dome a lot of imperfect and even crap movies .. in both decades.

  6. hello 11 years ago

    The reason Aamir being called perfectionst by the media is couz of his work ethics,his dedication and commitment towards his work and the way he gets involved in every department of the film. Anyway this is just a silly tag given by the media dont have to read too much into it.
    What do you mean by imperfect film ? No film is perfect even Good/Great films are not without flaws and as for crap films who hasnt done crap films try comparing Aamir’s filmography to others maybe then u will understand the difference….with all due respect Bachchan the biggest star India has ever seen has done more bad films than any other star in last 10-12 years.

    • yakuza 11 years ago

      @Hello … I think I should have been more precise when I made comment about his perfectionist image .. basically I was thinking about his 90’s filmography and except JJWS, Mann, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahi and Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke … rest all were bad movies including Raja Hindustani. His being a perfectionist was starting around filming of Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke .. I was wondering what exceptional he had done in 90’s that he was given perfectionist image that time .. This title was more suitable post Lagaan … not because his movies starting successful at BO in huge way .. but also because post Lagaan (Or should I say Mann ? ) he gave at least 4 ultimate classics.

  7. ank_16n 11 years ago

    naseeuddin shah also says this—–

    Great cinema will emerge from Pakistan: Naseeruddin

    Is Indian cinema any different from its’ neighbour?
    We are just too fat and contented with our selves. We’ll never make a great film in our country.

    so i think we will also agree with his this interview….!!

    • ank_16n 11 years ago

      and the same Naseeruddin says this about RANG DE BASANTI—-

    • ank_16n 11 years ago

      and the same Naseeruddin says this about RANG DE BASANTI—-

      He was speaking after the Bollywood film, Rang de Basanti (Colour Me Saffron) failed to pick up an award at this month’s British Academy of Film and Television Awards (Baftas). It was nominated in the Best Foreign Film category.

      “I really don’t think we make films that can match those from other parts of the world. And I am not referring to Hollywood – we make copies of Hollywood,” he added.

      • Baba 11 years ago

        “I really don’t think we make films that can match those from other parts of the world. And I am not referring to Hollywood – we make copies of Hollywood,”

        i completely agree to this

  8. sputnik 11 years ago

    SRK’s character’s name was Dev in KANK and its supposedly the same for Randeep’s character in Bombay Talkies and Rani was in both. So I have a feeling that this was actually what Karan wanted to make when he was making KANK 😉

  9. hello 11 years ago

    Why would we agree with this interview ? One doesn’t have to agree with anything he’s saying . Everyone is entitled to their opinion and anyone is free to disagree.

  10. Reddemon 11 years ago

    Its a myth that only ‘quality’ movie will be remembered by future generation. We still enjoy AAA and coolie more than any ‘Quality’ movie of those time.

    The Dabangg’s, OSO , rowdy rathore and Ghajini’s will be watched equally (or even more) than 3I, CDI, RDB etc.

    • Baba 11 years ago

      AAA and coolie are as bad as any masala movies of salman and one remembers coolie today. neither will anyone remember the RRs and ghajinis.infact they already are forgotten

      • Reddemon 11 years ago

        Coolie is still premiered more frequently on TV and get decent watch.

        Ghajini is popular.

        • Baba 11 years ago

          HSSH is premiered more than any of them. infact it comes on tv every weekend. is that film remembered or more importantly is that film worth remembering or even more importantly, are the ppl who remember such films worth giving any importance?

  11. Reddemon 11 years ago

    “I really don’t think we make
    films that can match those from
    other parts of the world” We will be able to do so once favoritism and nepotism makes way for creativity and talent.

    “we make copies of Hollywood”

  12. yakuza 11 years ago

    “AAA and coolie are as bad as any masala movies of salman and Akshay”

    With AAA if you mean Amar Akbar Anthony .. then AAA is BAAP of all masala movies, in fact its a reference point of masala genre.. if you think this is bad then you should strictly avoid any masala.

    About Coolie, it was definitely a hugely entertaining movie .. its not easy to make movies on Majdoors/labour/coolie in entertaining way .. Coolie was not only entertaining but also true to its subject as much as possible.

    And just like AAA is reference point of masala genre .. Entry scene of Amitabh (Entire 15 minute scene) in Coolie is reference point of HEROIC Entry.

    • Baba 11 years ago

      the film had too many “coincidences” to swallow 😉 Apart from the family tree jugglery of amitabh, rishi and vinod , the value of Gold amused me a lot. pran is poor, becomes rich, then again becomes poor.Jeevan is rich, becomes poor and then again becomes rich.
      kuch bhi chal raha tha

  13. sputnik 11 years ago

    This review is hilarious. Read it.

    The gods of new age filmmaking bring you BOMBAY TALKIES. The compendium of four shorts commemorates the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema. The ‘auteurs’ will soon be walking the red carpet at the 66th Cannes Film Festival for a ‘special screening’ of the film. The head honcho of the production company termed it as an epoch making event that will set the tone of the next hundred years of Indian cinema. It started with RAJA HARISHCHANDRA and has reached BOMBAY TALKIES. Indian cinema has evidently come a long way; from narrating a tale about the righteous king Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra down to the stories of ‘gayistan’,‘sheela ki jawani’, a half-eaten itinerant ‘murabba’, and of a storyteller and a failed actor who has a ‘shuturmurg’ for a pet. Long live new age Indian cinema. Fakete raho.

    The first short by Karan Johar is about the world of tormented and tortured gays. He expresses his solidarity and sympathy with the global LGBT movement. He has no love for ‘B’isexuals though. He gives a clarion call to them to turn homosexuals, stop living a lie, and come out of the closet. It is also a call to humanity to flaunt its sexuality, including well-endowed middle-aged bust lines carefully concealed in low-cut blouses to provide you a sumptuous cleavage Darshan. It is a propaganda film. Every dialogue in it is like the headline in an advertisement. Each element is underlined with an extra thick marker – from the booby bare-armed rosogullabongness of Rani Mukerji, to the gayness of her new colleague who begins his conversation with, ‘ I’m gay.’ Now why does he do it? This is India. Who cares if he/she gets fornicated from front or behind by a man, woman, animal or some inanimate object, in whatever manner? There are far more serious survival concerns on an ordinary Indian’s mind. Karan Johar’s blatant sloganeering and activism is totally out of place in this milieu. And the story and plot of the film is quite juvenile, insensitive and overtly violent for western audiences. You must dig deeper into the shit hole to attract serious attention and make a lasting impact on the global art house scene Shriman KJo.

    The second short by Zoya Akhtar is about the transgender phenomenon, feminism, and Bollywood’s impact on little kids. A little boy dreams of dressing like a girl and perform item numbers in films emulating his inspiration Katrina Kaif. His father would like him to play football, a manly activity. The father is the hate figure in the film. This is the latest trend. Decadent metrosexuality is OK, manliness is not, and fathers are villains in the new age family story. This one also suffers from the ‘extra thick marker’ flaw apart from being a trite idea. What makes it interesting is the boy in a girl’s attire. He steals the show and the last few shots of the boy dancing with gay abandon for his housing society audience to the tune of ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ is mood elevating and has that special Hindi film touch the Cannes audience may relish.

    The third short is by Dibakar Banerjee. This is a film about a day in the life of a failed actor. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a failed actor and entrepreneur who wanted to start a shuturmurg (ostrich) farm and sell ostrich eggs. He lives in a Mumbai chawl with a doting wife, his daughter, and a voracious ostrich. The daughter is not well. He tells stories to her in the evenings. It is a Satyajit Ray story we are told. Something seems to have been lost in the translation or the understanding or the interpretation of the story in my view. It does not have any trace of Ray. It also has fake existential touches. After having done so well as the much-in-demand star of art house cinema, Nawazuddin Bhai has also started underlining his performance with a thick ‘realistic acting’ marker. The damn serious efforts to underplay a role are getting too obvious to escape notice.

    The fourth short by Anurag Kashyap is a satire and caricature on star-crazy Indians. It is about a piece of ‘murabba’ at the bottom of a jar that travels from Allahabad to Mumbai in the hope that Big B will take a bite of it and impart lifesaving properties to it. A devoted son carries it to fulfill his dying father’s wish, who is a Big B fan. The boy’s grandfather was a Dilip Kumar fan who got a six months reprieve from death thanks to honey touched and tasted by Yusuf Saab. The grandson does not seem to have any interest in films and film stars though. He is doing it for his father. His tapasya in front of Prateeksha, Big B’s bungalow in Juhu, bears fruit when Big B does the needful right in front of his eyes by taking a bite of the lonely murabba. This time the thick marker works over time. It underlines everything, from fake performances by actors to its supposedly irreverent dialogues and humor.

    Since short films don’t really make commercial sense, you use them as no budget show-reels to demonstrate your artistic vision and prowess. It has to be an inspired effort. These films are neither inspired nor inspiring. The lackluster second-rate concoction gets ‘a dung heap’ as a topping in the form of a banal and demeaning audio-visual collage of low res footage from old Hindi films and an as-insipid-as-it-can-get song and dance number performed by 25 of our top line stars – from Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan to Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, and from Madhuri Dixit to Vidya Balan. It’s despicable and humiliating and reminds one of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s shamefully crappy documentary BOLLYWOOD: THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD that premiered in the 2011 edition of the Cannes Film Festival and deservedly disappeared without a trace thereafter.

    These films have four things in common –fake performances, contrived screenplays, slip-shod direction, and their imitativeness. There is nothing Indian about them, including the background score. Though it’s a film made as a tribute to the 100 years of Indian cinema, it betrays the eagerness of our new age geniuses to disown that legacy and ape the west. They behave like over-ambitious slum-kids anxious to be adopted by a rich American couple. Why do they do it? What makes them dislike their legacy? They don’t seem to realize that they are committing a folly. They are like a horse that brays like a donkey and feels good about it.

    The best these filmmakers can do to commemorate the 100 years of Indian cinema is to look back and re-discover and re-connect with their native genius, cultural roots and legacy. If they seek sincerely like true artists, they may find a wealth of amazing, astounding, and mind-boggling and yet untried stories and ideas there. The world has not seen anything like that. The art house cinema of the west has lost its vigor and vitality, and Hollywood is going through a phase of total artistic bankruptcy. It is a cesspool of degenerating, rotting, and moribund creativity. This is the right environment and ripe moment for the vibrant lotus of Indian cinema to bloom.

    And here are a few final words. BOMBAY TALKIES represents the pathetic state of our cinema and the sad erosion of the native creative impulses of our filmmakers. It is an affront and mockery of the history of Indian cinema and certainly not a tribute. And I have come across something that possibly is the best commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema. It is a book co-published by NFDC and compiled and written by Kamal Swaroop who made a film called OM-DAR-BA-DAR, a cult classic, which won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Film in 1989. It is titled ‘A Journey – Tracing Phalke’. Swaroop started writing it as a film on Dada Saheb Phalke. The film remains unmade. If it gets made ever, it will be a shuddh desi film that will rock the art house cinema establishment from Berlin to Cannes with its unique ‘jai Shambho, tod makaan laga de tambo’ kind of absurdist imagery.

    We give four stars to the film – one for the boy in Zoya Akhtar’s short film, one for the shuturmurg in Dibakar Banerjee’s tale of a failed actor, one for Rani Mukerji’s low-cut blouse and freckles, and one for the lonely half eaten ‘murabba’. Faketey raho.

    Ratings : 4/5

    (Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)


  14. yakuza 11 years ago

    Loll .. He is director of crap fests Baaghi, Betaabi and Aanch etc ..

  15. ank_16n 11 years ago

    “AAA and coolie are as bad as any masala movies of salman and one remembers coolie today. neither will anyone remember the RRs and ghajinis.infact they already are forgotten”

    baba..leave the social networking world….meet 100 people as sample …80-85 people will still name RR, Dabangg,AAA and PH over 3 Idiots, CDI,RDB, TZP and many other which some people consider classic..

    in fact…..except 3 Idiots…..people hardly remember CDI,RDB while for them TZP is non-existent..!!

    • ank_16n 11 years ago

      baba…whether u agree with above comment or not it doesn’t matter as majority in REAL World agree with it..!! 🙂

      • Baba 11 years ago

        i dont think cdi,rdb, tzp are classics or particularly memorable but thye are very good films nonetheless and i would prefer to be in a small sect of crowd and consider opinions of only those who pick those films over dabang, RR etc

        • ank_16n 11 years ago

          that’s the choice everyone has to make whether to be on that side or this side…
          u have chosen urs and similarly others have chosen their’s…
          so no problem in that..!!

  16. Reddemon 11 years ago

    would prefer to be in a small
    sect of crowd and consider
    opinions of only those who pick
    those films over dabang, RR etc”
    Well said. I was thinking about the same thing yesterday.

    For example the quality of Milk is better understood by the Milkman than that by an CA. In the same way cinema is better understood by a regular moviegoer or the one who spends more time on it than say a Autowallah. So its Foolish to say that a Autowallah’s vote has equal weightage in deciding the Quality.

    An autowallah will have equal vote while deciding popularity but not While deciding Quality.

  17. ank_16n 11 years ago

    “n the same way cinema is better understood by a regular moviegoer or the one who spends more time on it than say a Autowallah.”

    in population of 120 crores people……..hardly 5-10 % people go to a cinema hall to watch movies regularly..

    Rest 50-60 % watch it either on Pirated version or at home on Tv….and these 60 % are not Autowallas, rikhawallas their is a huge number of Middle class Audience which are part of these 60 % and these 60% also include some of those who u see regularly on Social networking sites like FB, Twitter ,NG and Tanqeed…

    Their are all types of people ranging from those who watch movies to learn something, some watch movies to learn Technicalities and majority who watch movies to bust their stress and to enjoy, get Entertain and have a relax 2-3 hours...

    all those who are in the majority section doesn’t make them Autowalas, Rikshawalas…just like all those people who comment on Social networking sites discussing movies can’t be called crazy,jobless, lifeless creatures just bcoz they spend hours on These sites..!!

    • Baba 11 years ago

      if we have to count the opinion of particularly those who watch most of the films in theatres ( money spending audience or who watch movies regularly as you said) , then you have to take the opinion of all critics most seriously as they are the ones who watch every Goddamn movie 😉 and they are certainly not the ones who liked d2 and RR 😉

  18. Reddemon 11 years ago

    ‘In the same way cinema is betterunderstood by a regular moviegoer or the one who spends more time on it than say a Autowallah.’
    ‘spends more time on it than say a Autowallah’
    that means its OK if one watches it on TV, Pirated, CD’s etc or discuss movies on social networking sites or various Forum.

    • ank_16n 11 years ago

      that was my point……the people seeing movies on TV, Pirated, CD’s etc Prefer RR n Dabangg more than any other movies(so their opnion is in majority)…which is reflected by the repeat viewing they had during their TV premieres or number of pirated DVD’s in circulation..!!

      though having said that…movies like Dabangg 2, Bodyguard, Don 2 and Housefull 2 do also get rejected by these TV, Pirated, CD’s etc watching public also..!!

  19. ank_16n 11 years ago

    “then you have to take the opinion of all critics most seriously as they are the ones who watch every Goddamn movie 😉 and they are certainly not the ones who liked d2 and RR ;)”

    their are many critics who have liked Dabangg and Rowdy rathore and their are some who haven’t liked 3Idiots, CDI,TZP etc..!!

    for me Rajeev masand , Anupma chopra,Raja sen n Mayank chopra are not the only critics…their are many others….u can’t put forward ur comment on above 3-4 critics..!!

  20. Baba 11 years ago

    dharmendra did what the makers of bombay talkies could not do, – get aamir,srk and hrithik in the same frame


  21. SAMEER 11 years ago

    One of the Worst things first on Bombay Talkies.

    Karan Johar’s film portrays gays in a bad light. It shows gays pushing and throwing around parents, cheating friends( Saqib cheats Rani by trying to make out with her husband Randeep) , breaking up married couples and families ( Saqib goes and tells Rani that her husband is bisexual ) and not patient with love ( Shows no concern for Randeep when he is trying to come to terms with his sexuality). The only good thing of the short film is the performance of Rani and Randeep in their well written role and the two old songs. The story could have been promising about a married couple coming accross a gay guy . But Saqib’s role is a let down. There is no integrity to his character. He cheats Rani his friend in the first place, but wants to tell her about her husband as he feels it is his duty to do so. So if he feels so much about his friend Rani , why did Saqib try cheating on her. And if he did try cheating, then why did he expose her husband and destroy their marriage. A complete let down by Karan Johar and his worst movie so far. Was he trying to tell his stupid story?
    This movie does not make sense what so ever. It is a big let down for gays. Let us not get carried away by the gay kiss and say that this is India’s Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain had great romance. Where is the romance and love in this one. Where was the love and romance in this one, all one could see was hate. Let us call a spade a spade. This short film by Karan Johar sucks big time.

    Dibakar Banerjee’s film was the best. It showed a failed actor who though a failure, is still different… even creative compared to other people around him (note : he even has an emu & he even gives a lesson in continuity to the assistant director when filming by saying he needs a paper), is trying to grapple with the realities of day to day living . But one of his greatest joys is when there is a smile on his daughter’s face. Nawazuddin Siddique is superb in the role…what range he brings to the ordinary character. He is supported well by Sadashiv Amrapurkar. This short film is the best.
    Zoya Akthar’s short is the next good one. It shows how society’s forced stereotyping and conditioning can strangulate individual spirit and aspirations. It tells how one can overcome this with determination and a little smartness. The little boy does not like football but is enamored by screen goddess Katrina Kaif’s aura and the only love of his life is to dance like her “Sheila”. The child actor is splendid and dances like Katrina which is a great achievement. Katrina plays herself to perfection…one of the few female superstar of Indian cinema who has the world eating out of her hands.

    Anurag Kashyap’s short is about the mania about Amitabh Bachchan and how people across the country travel to Mumbai to see him. It is the story of Vineet Kumar who travels to Mumbai as not he but his father is a fan of Bachchan and want to feed Bachchan his homemade Murabba but is not in position to travel and hence his son Vineet has to. The film is a bit long drawn and not fully interesting. But Vineet has given a good performance.

    So I will give this movie a 2.5 rating. Lost great rating due to Karan Johar’s short which was stupid, and also Anurag’s short could have been better.

  22. anandita 11 years ago

    you are an idiot and i wish you would just zip your pie hole.

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