Critics’ Review: ‘Bombay Rose’ Casts a Spell in Fits & Starts

Bombay Rose is directed by Gitanjali Rao.

Published03 Sep 2019, 07:01 AM IST
2 min read

Writer/director/animator Gitanjali Rao presents a multifaceted view of Mumbai for her debut feature, Bombay Rose. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and it was much appreciated by the critics. Take a look at what they have to say:

“Although Rao uses flowers as a linking device to draw the stories together, the narrative remains a bit on the scrappy side and not entirely resolved. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the fragmentary vibe goes with the oneiric, fantastical parts of the story. Likewise, the naive, cartoonish look of the figures, with their deliberately limited movements, enhances the folk art feel overall. Yet at the same time, there is a palpable sense that this was made by someone who knows Mumbai backwards and truly loves its ochre-colored streets, cluttered sidewalks and peeling billboards advertising old movie releases, right down to every frayed shred of paper.”
Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
“The gung-ho romanticism of live-action Bollywood cinema is affectionately satirized and honored from the opening scene of Bombay Rose, which enters an old-school Mumbai picture palace to find a full house glued to an action film stacked with blue-steel poses and torrid embraces — until a kiss is clumsily censored from the projection, to the audience’s vocal disgust. Rao’s film isn’t so shy of tenderness as it plots the travails of Kamala (voiced by Cyli Khare), a young Hindu woman escaping an arranged childhood marriage to work as a flower seller by day and a nightclub dancer by night. Rao earnestly portrays her heroine’s hardscrabble existence while also offering her a streak of pure, star-crossed movie romance in the form of Salim (Amit Deondi), a hard-up, true-hearted Muslim lad whose parents were killed by Kashmir militants.”
Guy Lodge, Variety
“Bombay Rose is the director’s first full-length animated feature. It’s a beautiful film. It’s also a film that’s hard to put in a box and say, “This is what it’s all about!” The laziest descriptor you could slap on it is probably “dreamlike”, but the 90-something minutes teem with waking life. Maybe we should begin by calling it a wistful memory piece set in the city in the title: not Mumbai, but Bombay. Brushstroke by thick brushstroke, in the opening stretch, the location comes alive – the skies with swirling crows, the shops, the traffic, and a hoarding featuring a Hindi film, Pyaar Ka Fasaana. Note that title, which translates to “love story”. It’s not a Mumbai title. It’s an unapologetically Bombay title, from when Hindi cinema wasn’t calling itself Bollywood.”
Baradwaj Rangan, Film Companion
“The mean streets of Mumbai have rarely looked so vibrant, so lavish, so positively otherworldly as they do in Bombay Rose, a meticulous, handcrafted animation. Gitanjali Rao’s film paints a luminous valentine to the city in all of its squalor and beauty and audaciously frames social-realist drama as a sentimental folk tale. The disparate ingredients do not always gel. But in fits and starts Bombay Rose casts quite a spell.”
Xan Brooks, The Guardian

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