On Bombay Velvet: How internet is killing the movie and the curse of being Anurag Kashyap #NotaReview

This is not a review of Bombay Velvet. Because whatever I say about Bombay Velvet doesn’t matter to you at all. You’ve already made up your mind about how you feel about Bombay Velvet, even especially if you haven’t seen it, because you have read gossip about the film’s edit issues before its release, or you’ve read Komal Nahta’s tweet about how two shows of the film got cancelled in the morning, or you’ve read a review of the film by critics who were ‘let down’ by this film.

For that matter, you have decided that no matter what others say, you will like this film because you are a Ranbir fan, an Anushka fan, or an Anurag Kashyap fan (are there any left though?). You may like it because everyone’s disliking it and you are a hipster, or you may like it because of the amazing irony of how a Rs 100 crore budget film has become an underdog. You may just like it because your expectations were lowered by the reviews of critics or your friends, and now you don’t find the film *that* bad.

It’s beside the point that I loved the film and its characters and its setting and the outstanding music, it’s pointless reviewing Bombay Velvet because invariably, I must belong to one or more of the sects I mentioned in the previous paragraph, perhaps without even knowing it. Because clearly, no one’s reviewing movies anymore, everyone’s reviewing their expectations of it.

Expectations vs the Film
Let me attempt to explain: When was the last time we walked into a movie theater without any expectations from the film whatsoever? Even if we didn’t have high expectations of the film, we certainly didn’t have no expectations else why would we spend your hard earned money and our precious time watching the film?

The reason we had these expectations (as little as they may be) is because we liked the trailer of the movie, or we like the actors in it, or the director of it or because it came recommended to us by a critic or a friend. So the film ultimately either lived up to these expectations, or fell short of them, and our opinion on the movie is an outcome of that. That’s largely how it’s always been when it comes to movie watching but ever since social media has happened to our lives, our expectations have started getting skewed much more sharply than ever before. With the groundswell of opinions on every movie, especially if they are STRONG and LOUD (whether positive or negative), our expectations have *become* our review of the movie. Think about it, we now rarely feel any different after watching a movie from what is being said about the movie, or the opinion we formed about it beforehand.

We already liked Piku before we entered the theater to watch it because EVERYONE LOVED IT. We were already impressed by the excellence of Court because EVERYONE WAS IMPRESSED BY IT. We were already disappointed with Detective Bymokesh Bakshy because EVERYONE WAS LET DOWN BY IT. We were already blown away by Fast and Furious because EVERYONE WAS BLOWN AWAY BY IT. Perhaps you are one of the rare people who felt the opposite for every movie I mentioned or you genuinely liked/disliked the previous movies and that has nothing to do with ‘everyone’. The truth, as they say, is probably somewhere in between.

The curse of being Anurag Kashyap
Let me put it another way: What if Court was made by Anurag Kashyap? What is Piku was made by Sajid Khan? What if Byomkesh Bakshy was made by Chaitanya Tamhane? What if Fast and Furious was made by Michael Bay? What if Bombay Velvet was made by Anand Gandhi?  Just think over this for a second. Would we still feel exactly the same about these movies? More importantly, would the *critics* feel the same way about them? Of course we wouldn’t. Because somewhere, we can’t disassociate the filmmaker from the film and that is true even moreso for critics.

Prove me wrong by showing me a review of Bombay Velvet that does not talk about Anurag Kashyap’s ambitions with this film, the film compared to his other work, the film with respect to other gangster film, the budget of the film, the expected box office, the negative buzz around it, etc etc etc. You’d be surprised if you find a review that only talks about the film and nothing else but the film because Anurag Kashyap is intricately linked to this film, but is that really fair? Why isn’t it only about the film anymore?

If you completely disagree with me on this, here’s another perspective: What if Woody Allen, who has been accused of being a pedophile, gets convicted? You’d certainly not be inclined to revere him as a person but would it have any bearing on what you think of him as a director? But that’s actually immaterial, to be honest, because the only question that matters is: would it change the way you feel about his films? Will Annie Hall make you feel any differently or will you love Midnight in Paris any less, knowing that the director behind him may not be a very good man? It won’t and it shouldn’t because it *really* doesn’t matter who has made a film. Only your connection to it matters.

Internet criticism
But that may not be true in the case of critics in the internet age. I read the reviews of a few critics who found Akshay Kumar’s Gabbar mildly enjoyable and gave it around 2.5 stars. I saw the film and it definitely didn’t suck as much as every other south remake but 2.5 stars? Bombay Velvet has got 2.5 stars. Byomkesh Bakshy got 2.5 stars. Are Gabbar and Bombay Velvet/Byomkesh Bakshy at the same level in ANY way? I’m not trying to be a condescending asshole or a cacophonous fanboy (although that’s beside the point too because you’ve already made up your mind either way, haven’t you?). What I’m trying to say is: Did Gabbar make you FEEL for even one second? What did you take back home after watching Gabbar? On the other hand – are you saying NOTHING in Bombay Velvet or Byomkesh made you feel? You took back NOTHING after watching them?

I’m not at all comparing popcorn films with ‘cinema’ and trying to draw a fail parallel. Because I LOVE popcorn cinema. Absolutely LOVE it. Because the best popcorn cinema also makes you FEEL – it could any feeling from awe and joy to aww and joy. (If you get the time, please do read this piece by Sady Doyle on popcorn cinema; possibly the best written article on cinema this year: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/marvel-killing-the-popcorn-movie/). Gabbar didn’t make me feel, neither do any of the umpteen other South remakes. Avengers (not part 2) did make me feel though, as did The Fault in our Stars in the same way that a Dhoom 3 and 2 States made me feel *something*. They are the epitome of popcorn films but I took away something back home after watching them. I took away something from Bombay Velvet and Byomkesh too, but nothing from Gabbar. Yet they are all given a star rating of 2.5 stars and to be honest, that blows my mind.

I am not calling out critics too (I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions and how am I to say my opinion is better than yours?) but I do have a problem with criticism connected with expectations. Because I fail to understand how ratings can be flexible according to expectations. The reason Gabbar got 2.5 was because the reviewers went into theaters expecting to see an absolutely horrible film but were surprised that it didn’t suck THAT BAD. On the other hand, Byomkesh got 2.5 because the reviewers were expecting to be blown away but that didn’t happen; and Bombay Velvet got 2.5 stars because the reviewers expected to be let down and that’s exactly what happened. I admit, some of this is informed from my understanding of criticism because I was a ‘critic’ for a while for Firstpost.com and to be honest, I occasionally suffered from the same issues too.

It may have been JUST me and perhaps I wasn’t qualified enough to be an opinion-giver (‘critic’ is too strong a word to my liking), and I may be ENTIRELY wrong and presumptuous about internet criticism (because criticism without the support of the internet today does not exist). But the truth is, it was only after I left my opinion hat at home and started watching films as a filmbuff that I began to see them for what they are. My feelings towards any film, now, are based on what I feel *because* of the film, or if I feel because of it at all. It has nothing to do with the perception of the film or the cast and the crew.

Why Bombay Velvet cannot be left to die
I loved Bombay Velvet. I didn’t connect with it in the first thirty minutes at all, but then I was slowly pulled in by it and by the end of it, I had been wholly consumed by all the complexity at play – the class divide of Khambatta and Balraj, the love story of Johnny and Rosie, the angst of Balraj to rise above his so-called aukaad, the loyalty of Chiman, and all else. The music was the true champion of the film and Amit Trivedi’s OUTSTANDING score interpreted on film is reason alone to watch this film. I loved the world of the film created by its superlative cast (Ranbir, Anushka, Satyadeep, Karan and Kay Kay took my breath away) and crew, and contrary to what many have said, I felt that the film didn’t reach its full potential because of the edit, done by the great Thelma Schoonmaker and Prerna Saigal.

In the first thirty minutes, to give the film a certain pace and atmosphere, what I felt were crucial scenes of romance between Rosie and Johnny weren’t allowed to breathe and were cut off just when they needed that little pause for us to feel deeper. The uneven pace of the film throughout is its biggest downfall and somewhere, there is a director’s cut which could be 3 hours long but which I suspect I may love more. But I still love Bombay Velvet, but as I had mentioned upfront, what I think of the film doesn’t even matter.

The more time spent on the internet consuming about movies before watching them, is killing the experience of watching any movie for what it is. Remember the unparalleled pleasure of being in a cinema hall at one with a movie, and discovering it unfold one scene at a time, before the onslaught of teasers of teasers and trailers 2,7,10? Before Twitter and Facebook told you EVERYTHING you didn’t want to know about the film but would have liked seeing or deciding for yourself? Before opinions were jammed down your throat because you live on the internet and opinion-givers do too?

Hence my opinion of Bombay Velvet is immaterial. What matters is what *you* think of it. And the only way for you to decide is not by reading snarky comments about it on the internet but by going to the theater and watching it yourself. Watch it not because I or anyone else liked the film, but because such an intricately created and painstakingly mounted film is certainly worth your time – at least worth more than reading all the gossip about it. Whether you love, like or dislike it, watching a movie of this scale, design and feel isn’t an experience you get often in India cinema, and will certainly not get anymore if this film is doomed by the wrath of the internet and the curse of being Anurag Kashyap.

Do not let the internet kill Bombay Velvet. Do not let the internet kill movies.

Agree/disagree with the piece? Want to tell me how I suck and don’t know jackshit? Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
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The 2015 Big Summer Movie Preview #Hollywood #Bollywood

So arguably the most anticipated movie of 2015, the awesome Avengers: Age of Ultron, has already released and we’ve only just hit May. But summer’s only just begun which means we’ve only just got started. Here are the most exciting movies lined up for the rest of the summer and what makes them exciting (to me!):

MAY 8
Piku
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar

Because Shoojit Sircar is back and Irrfan-Deepika could be the quirkiest romantic pairing this year.

Maggie
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Henry Hobson

Because this looks like the film that could do for Arnold Schwarzenegger what Joe couldn’t do for Nicholas Cage – give him a gritty, badass comeback.

Hot Pursuit
Starring:
Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara
Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Because Reese Witherspoon is back to doing comedy and this could be this year’s Heat.

MAY 15
Bombay Velvet
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap

Because with that cast and the music by Amit Trivedi and with Kashyap at its helm, this is easily my most anticipated film of the year now.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Directed by: George Miller

Because it’s got the most massive, mindblowing, earth-shattering, trailer this year and in most years in general.

Pitch Perfect 2
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and more

Because after a fresh, inventive and super fun original, the coolest group of chickas are back, pitches!

MAY 22
Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Kangana Ranaut, R Madhavan

Because one Kangana is awesome and two Kanganas is THE BEST THING EVER.

Tomorrowland
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie

Because George Clooney stars in a film written by the writer of Lost in a film by the director of The Incredibles, which also stars Hugh Laurie, btw.


MAY 29

San Andreas
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Because who doesn’t want to see The Rock saving the world!

Aloha
Starring: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray
Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Because THE Cameron Crowe is back with a romcom starring Emma Stone; this could probably be my favourite film of the year.


JUNE 5

ENTOURAGE!!
Starring: Ari Gold, Vinnie Chase, ‘E’, Turtle and Johnny Drama (oh yeah)
Directed by: Doug Ellin

BECAUSE THE BOYS ARE BACK AND I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE, LOOK SO MANY EXCLAMATIONS!!!!

Dil Dhadakne Do
Starring: Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Farhan Akhtar, Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar

Because with a star cast that awesome and a trailer that fun, and a director so brilliant, this could be the Bollywood film of the year.

Spy
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Nargis Fakhri
Directed by: Paul Feig

Because Melissa McCarthy is a spy and Jason Statham is a doofus and the film is by the director of The Heat and it also stars Nargis Fakhri!


JUNE 12
Jurassic World
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jake Johnson
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Because the dinos are back, this time with Chris Pratt!!!!! (Also this movie is directed by a guy who’s first film I *really* dug, Safety Not Guaranteed)

Hamari Adhuri Kahaani
Starring: 
Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi
Directed by: 
Mohit Suri

Because Vidya Balan is the only reason you need, although I’m really not sure about the rest of the cast and crew.

#Notraileryet

JUNE 19
ABCD 2 (3D)
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhu Deva
Directed by: Remo D’Souza

Because the trailer in 3D looks actually looks like quite a blast.

Inside Out
Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader
Directed by: Pete Docter

Because what a great cast and what a great plot!

Paper Towns
Starring: Natt Wolfe, Cara Delevingne
Directed by: Jake Schreier

Because
this film is written by the writers of of (500) Days of Summer, The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), so if you love romcoms, this one’s NOT to be missed.


JUNE 26
Ted 2
Starring: 
Mark Wahlberg, Seth McFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson
Directed by: 
Seth McFarlane

Because the foul-mouthed teddy bear is going to be dirtier, raunchier and even more of an asshole this time… if only the censors allow his debauchery.

Big Game
Starring: 
Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila
Directed by: 
Jalmari Helander

Because it’s an action thriller featuring Samuel ‘Mothaf**a’  Jackson as The President of the USA… oh hell yeah!


JULY 1

Magic Mike XXL
Starring: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks, Matt Bomer
Directed by: Channing Tatum

Because this one’s for the ladies.

Terminator Genisys
Starring: 
Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney (WHY?)
Directed by: 
Alan Taylor

Because Emilia ‘Khaleesi’ Clarke gives you hope, otherwise this really looks like a piece of shit.


JULY 3
Hero 
Starring: Athiya Shetty, Sooraj Pancholi, Govinda
Directed by: Nikhil Advani

Because this has been the most talked reboot starring two star kids, since Saawariya.

#NoTrailerYet

JULY 10
Minions
Starring: 
Jon Hamm, Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton
Directed by: 
Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

Because MINIONS.


JULY 16

Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Starring: Salman Khan, Kareena  Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Directed by: 
Kabir Khan

Because Kabir Khan is the only director who can make a Salman Khan movie cool.

#NoTrailerYet

JULY 17
Ant-Man
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll
Directed by: 
Peyton Reed

Because Paul Rudd is a superhero in the second Marvel movie of the year, and he better live up to it because I’m really not happy about Edgar Wright not directing this.

Pan
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Cara Delevingne, Garett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried
Directed by: 
Joe Wright

Because this could either be fantastic or the best unintentional comedy of the year.

Mr Holmes
Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney 
Directed by: 
Bill Condon

Because Magneto as an aging Sherlock Holmes and that’s just a sick logline.

JULY 24
Trainwreck
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, John Cena, Brie Larson
Directed by: 
Judd Apatow

Because it’s the coming together of two comedy gods with Amy Schumer writing and acting and Judd Apatow directing.

Pixels
Starring: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
Directed by: 
Chris Columbus

Because I never thought I’d look forward to an Adam Sandler film but this is directed by THE Chris Columbus (of Home Alone!), *really* looks like fun and it also stars Peter ‘Tyrion’ Dinklage and that can never hurt, right?

JULY  31
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames
Directed by: 
Christopher McQuarrie

Because let’s just be honest, the only reason Tom Cruise is still relevant is because he almost kills himself while doing the stunts in Mission Impossible, and everyone’s just curious to see how he managed to live.

Southpaw
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whittaker, Rita Ora
Directed by: 
Antoine Fuqua

Because Jake Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar and the buzz is that this film could get one for him (although the trailer’s not promising)

Bangistan
Starring: Ritesh Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat, Jacqueline Fernandez
Directed by: 
Karan Anshuman

Because the poster, name and cast is super fun and if it could match the spirit of a Four Lions, this could be a load of fun!

#NoTrailerYet

Drishyam
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Shriya Saran, Tabu, Rajat Kapoor
Directed by: 
Nishikant Kamat

Because Nishikant Kamat, otherwise really not excited to find out what Ajay Devgn will bring to *another* South remake.

#NoTrailerYet

AUGUST 7
Fantastic Four
Starring: Kate Mara, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell
Directed by: 
Josh Trank

Because it’s got the freshest cast for a superhero movie after Guardians of the Galaxy, and because the director’s done Chronicle, the most twisted take on the superhero genre yet.

Goosebumps
Starring: Jack Black, Kumail Nanjiani, Karan Soni
Directed by: 
Rob Letterman

Because this really sounds like the fun, irreverent film that brings Jack Black back on the map.


AUGUST 14

The Man from UNCLE
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant
Directed by: Guy Ritche

Because Guy Ritchie, that cast, and have you even seen how much fun the trailer looks??

Brothers
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Siddharth Malhotra, Jackie Shroff
Directed by: 
Karan Malhotra

Because the original movie that this is a reboot of, Warriors, is an incredible film so fingers crossed, although hard to trust anything with Akshay Kumar attached.

#NoTrailerYet

Masterminds
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by: 
Jared Hess

Because Kristen Wiig and that cast in a bank heist comedy sounds like the funniest film of the year already.

Straight Outta Compton
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Keith Stanfield, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins
Directed by: 
F Gary Gray

Because it’s the origin story of legendary hip hop group NWA and check out the trailer and tell me you don’t get the feels.

AUGUST 21
All is Well
Starring: JAbhishek Bachchan, Asin, Rishi Kapoor, Supriya Pathak
Directed by: 
Umesh Shukla

Because Umesh Shukla’s OMG was very well done and it would be interesting to see Abhishek Bachchan finally getting a good director to work with.

#NoTrailerYet


AUGUST 28

Phantom
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif
Directed by: 
Kabir Khan

Because Kabir Khan again, with another movie, with another Khan, could either be a double treat or… hmm, let’s just hope it’s that.

#NoTrailerYet

Hitman: Agent 47
Starring: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds
Directed by: 
Aleksander Bach

Because Homeland’s Rupert Friend gets an action thriller of his own and that sounds terribly exciting to me.

Which movie are you most excited about? Do leave your favourites in the comments below 🙂
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© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.