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Does 'Bombay Talkies' herald a new era in Bollywood?


Shomini Sen, IBNLive.com
May 09, 2013 at 11:13am IST

New Delhi: If 'Bombay Talkies' is an indication to the kind of cinema that we will get to watch from now on, then it is good news for all cine lovers. In a befitting tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema, the anthology film featuring some of the best directors of current times manages to step out of its comfort zone and yet charm the audience.

In a first of its sorts, the film was not promoted by any star- which has been the norm so far- but simply by the four directors who directed four short stories in the anthology film. Even though, 'Bombay Talkies' can be put in the framework of commercial cinema, it steers clear of all the conventional plots that make a quintessential Hindi film.

Unlike a typical hindi film, the film doesn't have a boy-girl romance saga, music is used sparingly in the backdrop and it doesn't even boast of a big star in a leading role. The only popular face among the gamut of actors is Rani Mukerji, whose last couple of films failed to make any mark at the Box Office. Agreed, Katrina Kaif and Amitabh Bachchan play pivotal roles in the film, but both actors literally have blink-and-miss roles in the film.

Does 'Bombay Talkies' herald a new era in Bollywood?

The anthology film manages to step out of its comfort zone and yet charm the audience.

The film though is relevant in today's times. It narrates stories of real people and real problems that our society faces. Hindi films have in the past been criticized for creating a make belief world for its audience. The nach-gana, the theatrics, the larger than life characters- all have defined hindi films in the past 100 years. And yet the film which pays tribute to Bollywood steers clear of any of these things and presents stories of the common man.

From homosexuality to unemployment in the maxim city to breaking norms in the society to the pathos of a fan of a superstar- all the stories somewhere strike a chord with the audience. In fact, it can easily be said that the content is the real hero of 'Bombay Talkies'. The directors- Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar- are not only known for delivering films that have an instant connect with the audience but also posses sound technical knowledge to make slick, edgy films. Yet, all four of them bank heavily on their respective story to make 'Bombay Talkies' an emotional ode to cinema.

So, will 'Bombay Talkies' herald a new era in Bollywood. The directors have clearly raised the bar but is the audience ready for mature cinema. Perhaps not. If we go by the Box Office collection of the first three days- 'Bombay Talkies' earned Rs 5 crores whereas the Sanjay Gupta's high octane action drama 'Shootout At Wadala' earned approximately Rs 30 crores. Both the films released on the same day but while 'Bombay Talkies' was lauded by critics, 'Shootoout At Wadala' got a thumbs up mostly from the audience. The film- based on a real life incident that took place in 1982 in Mumbai was a masala film, complete with larger than life hero, dramatic dialogues and unbelievable stunts.

Many would argue that the Indian audience has an appetite for all kinds of cinema. From the potboilers top though provoking cinema- every genre has a niche audience. But while potboilers rake in the moolah- which is a important part of movie business- thought provoking films somehow get pushed to the background due to lack of business. While a film like 'Bombay Talkies' may not be able to make it to the coveted 100 crore club, it sure makes a brave statement about commercial filmmakers who are now ready to experiment and narrate stories that are real and break some norms. And that is a big step in itself.

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