‘Bombay Rose’ is a World Crafted with Love, Colour & Empathy
Gitanjali Rao’s animated feature Bombay Rose, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2019, had its North American premiere at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on 7 September.
It is an exquisitely handcrafted ode to a city that might be long gone. Bombay is no longer officially called by that name, but “Bombay” as an emotion continues to live in life and passion. Bombay Rose is an ode to that city and the people who made it their own.
These three characters and their stories get intricately linked by a “red rose” - a symbol of love, fragrant with nostalgia and vulnerability. In fact, flowers are everywhere, and so are cats! Rao indulges her love for the feline creatures, giving them many adorable appearances through the film.
A six-year labour of love, directed, written and painted frame-by-frame by Gitanjali, the film has 3 main characters – Kamala (Cyli Khare), who makes gajras and sells them in Juhu, a Kashmiri man named Salim (Amit Deondi) and an Anglo-Indian woman, Ms Shirley D’Souza (Amardeep Jha), who reminisces about her youth and the stardom that has faded away years ago. These three characters and their stories get intricately linked by a “red rose” - a symbol of love, fragrant with nostalgia and vulnerability. In fact, flowers are everywhere, and so are cats! Rao indulges her love for the feline creatures, giving them many adorable appearances through the film.
There is a scene where Ms D’Souza teaches young Tara (younger sister of Kamala) the difference between various colours and shades. Crimson is different from carmine she points out. And the stunning palette used comes alive. Each colour vibrant, almost speaking for itself. Kamala and her dreams are a bright red. Salim and his borrowed Bollywood machismo, yellow. Miss D’souza’s world takes on the hue of the era she reminisces about – black and white, laced with songs like ‘Hoon Abhi Main Jawan...’ (Aar Paar) and ‘Aiye Meherbaan...’ (Howrah Bridge).
What is interesting though is how Gitanjali uses some pertinent issues like the state of migrants, the shutting down of dance bars and the impact it has on the women whose livelihood depends on it, the violence and its effect on Kashmiris, child labour, and communal tensions. And she wraps it all up in a beautiful dream-like artistic imagery authentic to its culture and surroundings.
Though the pace at times is too indulgent and even the story isn’t spectacularly new, yet the world created by Gitanjali, crafted with love, colour, empathy and gentleness, will stay with you long after the film is over. An unhurried visual delight, Bombay Rose is an absolute treat!
Watch the trailer of Bombay Rose here:
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