What is the story about?
Kamala (Cyli Khare) is a bar dancer by night and a garland seller by day. Her sister Tara (Gargi Shitole) studies in school which Kamala affords as she is the lead breadwinner of the family consisting of herself, her sister and her grandfather who is a watchmaker but can repair anything mechanical. Kamala has dreams that are not bound by her situation. She dreams of being a princess and a rose-tinted life only to be pricked by the thorns of her reality which has the eagle-like Mike (Makarand Deshpande) who has convinced her somehow to be sold off to Dubai. Kamala meets Salim (Amit Deondi) who has been orphaned by militancy in his home back in Kashmir and is desperately trying to find a stable job while selling flowers on the street. Salim and Kamala develop an attraction towards each other through flowers and sideway glances across the busy traffic stop of Mumbai. Then there is Tara whose life does not demand the tough life on the streets thanks to her sister and who studies with Ms D’Souza (Amardeep Jha) after school and who takes Tara to the cemetery every day to give a single rose to the love of her life. These and other stories entangle themselves to the fabric of the megalithic city of Bombay and make ‘Bombay Rose’.
From the beginning I have been in awe of the hand painted frames that the animated film uses. It feels as if I have been transported to a storybook and I am listening to my grandmother tell me fairy tales. This feeling is only pronounced by the way the film narrates the stories, complete with the nostalgia of old Bollywood and Konkani songs and imagery of a 50s Bombay to serenade the audio-visual senses of the audience. Each frame has been painted in such a way that they cannot escape from the fact that Bombay itself plays a character in the film, complete with a past, a present and in the end, even a future. The film’s premise is a love story, whether it be between two people, romantic or friendly, or the love of a city, the love of the city for a celebrity, or the love for memorabilia of a loved one, ‘Bombay Rose’ has a place for every kind of love. The scenes have good transitions so that it does not interfere with the audience’s viewing. The movie uses the magic of Bombay being the home to Bollywood quite literally, in it there is stark contrast between the characters and the dreams that they have- mirroring "the city of dreams" quite literally. If analysed in such a way, the audience cannot complain of the drama that the animated film presents as they are trying to bring into the script to screen the myth of love in the chaos of Bombay and the fantasy of Bollywood movies in reality.
What I loved was the way the characters have been sketched because each of them have a distinct personality to contribute to the film. Each character has been given a personality so that the audience has clarity of how they are like and how they should respond to them. Makarand Deshpande voicing the sly and cunning Mike was perfect with his voice suiting the character to the T. Cyli as Kamala may have been a bit posh, looking at how she is reserved and speaks with almost a toned voice, unlikely of those heard in the streets. Virendra Saxena brings perfection to his role as the ageing grandfather bringing a distinct personality to the voice of the character even though his animated avatar’s facial features showed next to no emotions. Amardeep Jha as the woman stuck in her past is a delight to watch come alive on screen.
Music & Other Departments
The background score highlights the love story that each of the characters share with the city of Bombay. While the old Ms D’Souza still sees her city in shades of monochrome and so her background score matches those of Guru Dutt and Dev Anand; Kamala thinks of her city as a fabled land, imagines it quite literally to be full of dreams like a handsome prince, which are not bound by her reality by that which remain only in her eyes and so her song is a song of lament, a song of yearning, for herself. The hand-painted frames give it a flavour of its own and make the scenes come alive onscreen.
The background music is fascinating as it weaves together a beautiful ‘Bollywood-esque’ story. The ending of the film is hopeful and celebratory and gives hope to the audience. The whole film is connected through one rose and that is how the film brings together different narratives together, much like the city of Mumbai, which seduces people from different walks of life to its abyss of dreams.
The movie can be slow sometimes. There is also the fact that in order to put in a lot of narratives, the story loses its main focus. The director, Gitanjali Rao, has tried to pack in a lot of stories into one box.
Did I enjoy it?
I did, although you may have to develop a mood to watch the film.
Do I recommend it?
It is an animated film that I have never before experienced in my life, that of hand-painted frames. One should definitely give it a watch.