Bombay Talkies has four short films, Karan Johar’s Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh, Dibakar Banerjee’s Star, Zoya Akhtar’s Sheela Ki Jawani and Anurag Kashyap’s Murabba.
Each film comes with a distinct emotion. Zoya’s film has a wide-eyed innocent feel to it, Dibakar’s film has muted passion, Johar’s film is about helplessness and Kashyap’s film is about optimism and faith in the face of harsh reality.
It starts with Johar’s Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh and you almost want to rub your eyes to make sure it is indeed directed by the gloss prince KJo. His film talks about a young boy (Saqib Saleem), who behind his flaky flamboyant exterior, tries to hide the trauma of not being understood by the society including his father. He meets a kindred soul in his boss (Rani Mukerji), who hides her lonely, hollow life with a mask of normalcy. The best scene of this short film is when Rani symbolically takes off her make up while talking about finally feeling free and happy. Saqib is natural and spontaneous but it is Rani who steals the show with a mature performance. Randeep Hooda, as a man living a life of lie, is pretty good too. And then Johar’s way of paying a tribute to 100 years of cinema through two timeless songs, Ajeeb Daastan Hai Yeh… and Lag Ja Gale... is endearing and adds to the overall mood of his film.
The next is Dibakar Banerjee’s Star. Based on a short story, Potol Babu Film Star by Satyajit Ray, Banerjee’s film talks about the life of a chawl resident (performed excellently by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) trying hard to make ends meet. Even though the needs of his family, which includes a wife, a small girl and an Emu, keeps him rooted to the ground and his passion buried, he seems like a happy- go-lucky man. And then there is a twist in his otherwise hopeless story, forcing him to look inwards. Nothing changes outwardly but he is clearly a changed man. Banerjee’s Star has one of the finest climax scenes that I have seen in recent times and it is also the finest of the four films. He gives it a delightfully irreverent treatment, without compromising on the depth of the issue tackled.
Zoya Akhtar’s film, Sheela Ki Jawani, is about the life of two siblings (Naman Jain and Khushi Dubey) with dreams in their eyes and budding passions in their hearts. In their innocent world, gender stereotyping is unacceptable and they, especially the little boy, feel pressurised by their father (Ranvir Shorey)’s straightjacket expectations. The boy, however, finds solution through the most unpredictable source, Katrina Kaif’s item number Sheela Ki Jawani which leads to a somewhat triumphant, feel good climax. Imaginative and simple, Zoya’s story tugs at your heart.
Kashyap’s film Murabba talks about Vijay’s (Vineet Kumar) journey from Allahabad to Mumbai, to meet none other than legendary star Amitabh Bachchan, only to fulfill a strange wish by his ill father. What seems like more or less a tribute to the superstar, Kashyap’s entire film revolves outside his bunglow. A story rooted in reality, which we know is Kashyap’s strong point by now, it also subtly reflects on the naivety of a person from small town as against the conniving city bred ones. (As soon as Vijay lands up in Mumbai he is fleeced by a taxi driver). While the subject, treatment and the attention to detailing is commendable, this one didn’t really stir emotions as it should have. And unlike Johar, Kashyap chose to stay in his comfort zone, which is a tad disappointing.