Friday, April 4, 2014


If some recent Hindi films are to be believed, then all one needs to "discover" oneself is a passport and a plane ticket to a foreign country. This pop-psychology method of going on a journey alone in a search for the self is now a common and often-used trope in Hindi cinema. Films like Jab We Met, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and English Vinglish have used it as an element within a larger plot, but Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Highway and Queen exclusively sell this idea. This is not to say that travelling, especially by oneself, is not a valid method of self-discovery. But maybe we also need to look at what the films are not saying, along with the message that they explicitly try to convey.

Ten years ago, a plot structure which focuses solely on a journey that the protaginist takes would have been impossible to conceive. Hindi film heroes were mostly caught up in a struggle with society or with their families. Plus, they also had their love lives to think of and a dozen or so goons that they needed to beat up along the way. The protagonist was imagined as a function of something else, something external -- never an individual, who may have to deal with internal conflict. The heroine does not even merit a discussion here because she was an appendage to the hero lending her sympathy and the comfort of her bosom when things got tough for the hero. Things changed with Jab We Met.

Jab We Met (Imtiaz Ali, 2007) is primarily Geet's (Kareena Kapoor) story. It is her journey, her difficulties, her craziness and her dialogues that we remember most from the film. The crux of the narrative is not so much Geet finding herself, but transforming in the way she understands love. Imtiaz Ali crafts a female protagonist, who (much like the recent Queen) dominates every frame she is in and also drives the narrative action of the film. In this sense JWM is a radical story because it is able to put a woman and her internal struggles at the centre of the action. The family is present in the backdrop, but Geet is not really in a struggle with them. She decides to stay away from them because she imagines that they would disapprove of her behaviour, not because she knows this for a certainty. The journey in case of this film, and Geet's solitude are not entirely transformative, though. She transforms in part because of Aditya (Shahid Kapoor) who acts as a catalyst and brings her out of her emotional atrophy. Ali gives us a glimpse of the "journey-as-self-discovery" theme, but does not go the all way. In fact, in the second half, Aditya takes over the narrative and Geet is relegated to the background. We don't witness her troubles when she runs off to Shimla.

One of the first films to posit the idea that travelling can be transformative and potentially life-changing is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Zoya Akhtar, 2011). Arjun, a cog in the wheels of the capitalist system, learns to "live" when he meets Laila, a free-spirited wanderer. The film does many new things. Firstly, there is a strong critique of capitalism as an ideology, which puts emphasis on the materialistic aspects of life such as the paycheck, the upmarket address, and the status marriage. Once again the film has a catalyst in the form of Laila, who belongs to a diametrically different school of thought as compared to that of Arjun. The film does away with typical touristy glimpses of Spain, and instead shows us long lingering shots of the countryside and the natural beauty of the country, and also introduces us to its culture (the Tomatina festival and the bull run at the end). The film also helps to mend the friendship between Imran and Arjun, resolving another internal struggle of misunderstanding and ego hassles.

But there is something that the film is not telling us, and in fact, takes completely for granted. For all its criticism of capitalism, it does not even consider that such a journey would end up costing a lot of money - money that you can earn only if you are actually a part of the system. This kind of a remedy for life's problems is not just inaccessible, but unimaginable to most people who watch this film. Travelling through European countrysides is how upper-class people solve their problems. It is not a viable solution for someone who inhabits a Anurag Kashyap film, for example.

Films such as English Vinglish (Gauri Shinde, 2012), Highway (Imtiaz Ali, 2014) and Queen (Vikas Bahl, 2014) tie up the theme of self-discovery with that of emancipation. It is important to note that the protagonists of all three films are women, but the similarity does not end here. Shashi, Veera and Rani - all three belong to conservative and more important, claustrophobic family environments. The journey that they take is first a means of escape, which later ends up becoming one of transformation. In two cases at least (EV and Queen) the transformation is also cosmetic in addition to being internal. In EV, Shashi has to learn English in order to gain her family's, especially her daughter's, respect. In Queen too, Rani's appearance undergoes a transformation - she exchanges her Rajouri Garden gawkiness for a distinctly European elegance. 

All the films that I have discussed in this blog also have a high feel-good quotient. Nothing terrible happens to the protagonists even though they enter potentially dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations. Geet finds herself alone on a station with leery men, but she does not get molested. The same is true for Veera in Highway -- Mahabir and his men do not touch her, or sell her off to a brothel, or murder her. In fact, they all seem quite pally and get along pretty well by the end of it all. Films which are set in countries abroad never show us a single poor or homeless person, or engage with the political reality of the country. And there is almost no talk of racism - except for one scene in EV.

I read somewhere recently that the problems of "finding oneself" or having an "internal conflict" are "first-world" problems. This sounds funny, but it is true - when your mind is more focused on how to fend for your basic needs, then you are not concerned with wanting to know who you really are or what you really want out of life. Self-discovery in itself is a limited concern, and the solution that these films put forth, even more so. Perhaps, the film itself is a mode of escape for some of us who may vicariously discover ourselves through the protagonists' journeys.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Now, I know that the Oscars are no reliable measure of true Hollywood talent. But I do enjoy lapping up the movies that have made Oscar hype once the award show is done. So, I have watched almost all the Best Film nominees (except Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club - which after Matthew McConaughey's "God helped me win this award" speech I do not feel like watching, and The Wolf of Wall Street). And if I had to pick a favourite out of the ones I have seen, it would have to be Spike Jones' lyrical and profound film Her

This story of a man falling in love with his operating system 'Samantha', simple and sparse, brings home several uncomfortable truths relevant in our technology-driven world. The film is set some time in the future - and it is the portrayal of the future that I especially found refreshing in the film. The future is not a space filled with robots, the sets are not metallic, and the people don't wear tight-fitting silver-coloured clothes. Instead, the future is a world clearly run by unassuming, badly-dressed nerds. The protagonist, Theodore, is one of them, always found in ill-fitting shirts, high-waisted pants, unkempt hair and nerdy glasses. His best friend Amy dresses like this too, far removed from conventional women of the future who till now have looked like fashion models in sleek body suits. Mercifully, there are no robots walking about and talking in hackneyed staccato voices.

Theodore's love interest is a husky-voiced OS (more than suitably voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It seems from the movie that romantic relationships between humans and OS's are not quite out of the ordinary. Theodore's friends seem accepting; there are even surrogate body services for such relationships. But his ex-wife is severely critical of his inability to connect with a human being and being in love with an OS. This, too me, looked a lot like how our times view mixed race, or inter-caste, or even homosexual relationships - accepted by some, panned by others. Logically, the relationship seems to rest on shaky ground. But Theodore and Samantha genuinely enjoy each others company and share a relationship based on togetherness and happy banter. This lasts only until something as banal and human as infidelity rocks their boat. 

The film affirms human relationships over those carried out over technology in the end, but does throw up a lot of questions about the extent to which technology mediates our relationships even today. We obsess over the perfect selfie, make up and break up over text messages, and sometimes develop deep bonds over e-mails with those we may never even have met. Technology is intricately linked to the way we connect with each other, and at times is the only way we do. Our relationships have already exist somewhere in between the tangible and virtual dimension. So, a human-OS relationship is not all that hard to conceive. Jones does so without being preachy or more show than tell. He puts out the questions unobtrusively during the film and leaves them lingering in your head long after the film is over.

[Watch this beautiful song from Her called The Moon Song by Karen O.]

I'm surprised that Joaquin Phoenix did not receive an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Theodore. He brings to the role a deep sense of loneliness, heartbreak and simplicity that it is very difficult to bring out on screen with very little dialogue and minimalist acting. 

This is true of another 2013 film with no Oscar mentions - Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen brothers. Here, to the protagonist, a down-on-luck singer, played (ironically) by Oscar Issac plays his role with the right mix of melancholy, disillusionment and alienation that is brought out by every frame that features him.

In contrast to Her, Inside... takes us back into the past. The film is set in the unrelenting winter of 1960s New York, and makes appropriate use of the harsh weather to reflect how harsh life has been to Llewyn. His kind of music is not popular anymore, nor does he have the necessary charisma to make it big in a music industry that depends on presentation and appearances. The film follows him through several bizarre experiences that take him far away from his dream of making it big music, yet it is his passion for music that gets him through.

[Another lovely song from the film Inside Llewyn Davis.]

And then there is the cat. The cat is very much a character in the film, representing Llewyn's lost and wayward state of mind, and his desperation to come home to something. The cat is called Ulysses and it does come home, but the film does not tell us of Llewyn did or not. The film's structure is strangely circular - the first scene is also the last scene, and one is not quite sure where it all began or how it is going to end. The uncertainty is effective, and you don't feel particularly unsettled that the film does not offer any easy solutions or convenient conclusions.

Oscar or no Oscar - both these films have been added to my list of favourites for their subtlety and their depiction of real people quietly reacting to human difficulties. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


This weekend at the movies was a good one for me. I saw two films that left an indelible impression on my mind, and I suspect that they will end up leaving one on the canvas of Hindi cinema as well. The two films I saw were Queen (Vikas Bahl, 2014) in the cinema hall and Shahid (Hansal Mehta, 2013) on DVD. The stories that these two films tell are vastly different, as are the disparate worlds they inhabit. But what is common to both is that they are brave films --brave films about small people with extraordinarily large lives.

Queen is the story of Rani, a girl from the closeted world of Rajouri in Delhi, who finds freedom, new experiences, friends, and most importantly, herself when she decides to go for her honeymoon all alone. Jilted just a day before her wedding by her fiance, Vijay (played with spot-on wimpiness by Rajkumar Rao), Rani goes on a journey to two places (Paris, then Amsterdam) far away from the milieu that she has grown up in. The primary metaphor of the film is that of journey and self-discovery. Shaky at first in foreign lands, Rani soon finds her footing with the help of the new people she meets - Vijaylaxmi, a free-spirited Parisienne, and Olexander, Taka and Tim, three backpackers she rooms with in Amsterdam. 

Kangana Ranaut in Queen

The film offers a completely new perpective on the clash, or in this case a happy and fortuitous collision, of the East and the West. The East is no more the vessel of Culture and Tradition, and the holy site of the Virtuous, Virginal woman. Nor is the West the spoiler of the said virtue, and the space where progressive means morally corrupt. So Vijaylaxmi smokes and drinks with abandon, and has a son with her boyfriend out of wedlock. Rani gets over her initially wariness to join in the fun in her own way. She does not reliquinsh her inherent conservativeness, but participates in Vijaylaxmi's wild ways without judgement and without feeling threatened that she herself needs to change to fit in. In Amsterdam, Rani is hesitant about sharing a room with three men at first, but then comfortably settles into these new friendships that she had formed on her journey, even sharing a "first kiss" with an Italian! 

But the merit of this film really lies in the fact that it never shifts focus from its female protagonist, perfectly enacted by Kangana Ranaut. It does not compromise with silly item numbers or mandatory romantic angles. The film is Rani's only, and the rest is what helps her form her identity by the end of the film. The film, thus, becomes a comment on patriarchy.This is not just the patriarchy that pervades our society, embodied by Vijay in the film, who does not want Rani to get a job or dance at a party, and flips out when he sees that she is sharing a room with three boys. It is also a comment on the patriarchy that lurks in commercial film industries, which are reluctant to put their money on "female-centric" projects. The film proves undoubtedly that it does not matter who is the "hero" of the film, it's ultimately the story that makes the movie.

The poster of Shahid

The second film I watched, Shahid, is also one where story rules. Shahid is a intrepid human rights lawyer, who fights on behalf those done in by a discriminatory and faulty system. The metaphor operating in this film too is one of discovery and self-realisation. The Mumbai riots of 1993, Shahid's stint in a terrorist training camp and then his languishing in jail, all help build-up his strong sense of ethics and his empathy with those who have suffer the same fate as him. Shahid's experiences teach him that the political is sometimes very personal, and one has no other choice but to take action against the injustices that plague the world around us.This film too does away with all the trappings of a commercial film - no songs, minimal background music, dialogue only when necessary, and shots of lingering silences when the camera does all the talking. Queen's Vijay is this film's Shahid, so completely the character he plays that it breaks your heart.

There is nothing flashy or big-budget about either Shahid or Queen. The films have no stars, no larger-than-life situations, no glossy song sequences, and absolutely no pretensions of being more than what they are. Both films are trying to tell a story, going about this with honesty and focus. And that's exactly why both these films work so well. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Song of Apu: When Life Imitates Art

As a student of cinema, perhaps my gravest sin is that I haven't yet seen Satyajit Ray's landmark film Pather Panchali. There, I've said it -- it's out in the open now -- I have not watched Pather Panchali. But that is not to say that I have not been affected by its aura. It is impossible to study film and not read something about Pather Panchali, or not have a famous filmmaker reference it as one of the films that have influenced her/ his works. Even though it is a serious work of non-mainstream cinema, there is a certain glamour associated with this film. It occupies a rarefied place in the world of cinema -- a cinematic "seventh wonder", if you please, unique, untouchable and irreplaceable. 

It was this "glamour" that prompted me to watch Apur Panchali, a film by Kaushik Ganguly, at the Pune International Film Festival this year. The film follows two narratives, though it is primarily the story of Subir Bannerjee, the forgotten, once-famous child actor, who featured in Pather Panchali as Apu. This narrative track follows the story of Subir, now an aged, lonely man who once again has to face the spotlight as he is being honoured at a film festival in Germany for his contribution to Ray's film. Another narrative focuses in Subir as a younger man (played by Parambrata Chattopadhyay of Kahaani fame) and the trajectory of emotions he has to go through as he loses his wife and child at an early age. These two stories are effectively interspersed with original footage from Pather Panchali, the scenes of this film often mirroring the events in young Subir's life.

Subir, as an older man, is rather reticent. He has tried to shake off the ghost of Apu all through his life, but the "relationship" he shares with Apu is almost karmic, in which it appears that the character and the actor are meant to be one. This feeling is heightened by the fact that Subir's own life, although cloaked in the mundane, is quite cinematic. The events of his life -- right from his father's death, to his happy marriage, to the eventual death of his wife and child -- all seem to be borrowed from the plot of a melodramatic Hindi film. It is uncanny, as Subir himself admits, that Apu, whom he has tried his best to forget, is fatally linked to his life. It is because of Apu that Subir gets the opportunity to fly business class to Germany on the first plane journey of his life.

My favourite character in the film was that of the young student, Arko, who brings Subir the news of his award and chases him around till he is convinced to go to Germany. Arko is motivated by the fact that he is becoming a part of cinematic history in his endeavour and all his efforts to pursuade Subir stem more from a love of cinema than anything else. There is an interesting scene in which Subir takes Arko to the house where Pather Panchali was shot. Arko takes several snapshots of this "historical" site and later reveals to Subir that he has also stolen a brick from the house. 

Ganguly's film is a look at the reverse side of instant stardom -- instant oblivion. The fame leaves Subir as soon as he is out of the spotlight, and he too learns to live without it. But Apu does not leave. He stays with Subir, almost like a puppeteer, charting the course of Subir's simple but extraordinary life.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


This year marks the 100-year anniversary of Indian cinema, and more specifically 100 years of the Mumbai Film Industry. This is now a well-known and widely celebrated fact, with even the Cannes Film Festival joining in to commemorate the most prolific film industry in the world. To mark the event, I thought I'd do some celebrating on my own. So I watched Paresh Mokashi's delightful film Harishchandrachi Factory to join in the fun. 

This film could have been many things. It could have been a true-to-life biopic, telling us about Dhundiraj Govind Phalke's journey of how he made the first feature film to be produced out of India. It could have told us in detail how this printing press-wala came to pursue his dream of making a film. It could have interspersed the good bits with the bad bits, also telling us how this once rich and successful man died in penury and was all but forgotten by those who once enjoyed his films. But Mokashi chooses not to stick too close to facts in this real life story. Instead, he decides to tell a comic slice-of-life tale - much like the cinema of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The film papers over all the bad bits and transforms the good bits into really good bits of situational comedy. To add to this, Madhav also puts in Chaplinesque montages which run in fast-forward in the parts where Phalke is learning how to make a film, run a projector, or actually filming scenes of his mythological, Raja Harishchandra.

This film could be criticized for its cinematic liberty, but I think Mokashi did the right thing by making HF a laugh riot. He also plays up the fact that Phalke was trained as a magician. This ties up later when Phalke shows his mini films to his neighbours and they react with the wonder of little children who have just been mesmerized by a magic trick. 

Also interesting is the fact that although the movie camera could exactly replicate reality, its function somehow got appropriated to telling stories. In Phalke's case, cinema becomes a medium for telling stories born out of India's mythology, and two new genres of film-making come into being - the mythological and the sci-fiction film (Phalke's films included rudimentary special effects - another instance of why his role as a magician is important). Another aspect that the film does not downplay is the pivotal role of Phalke's wife Saraswati in collaborating with him in his endeavours. She not only partly finances the film by selling of her ornaments, but also participates in its shooting, development and editing.

I did watch this film in the theater three years ago, and saw it the second time only recently - and was thoroughly entertained. This film can easily be a mood-lifter, right up there with Andaz Apna Apna and Singin' in the Rain. The film has definitely exercised  a great deal of poetic license, but it does full justice to its subject - the sheer magic that is cinema.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It is difficult to analyse a film when one has dozed off while watching it. This is what happened to me in the second half of Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013). Normally, if I fall asleep during a film, I would be prompted to say that it was boring and I didn't like it. But I can't say that about this film. Even if it slowed down in the second half, ambling towards a predictable ending, it was still an engaging film, making a strong comment on the deeply suspicious and xenophobic times we are living in. The film is based on Mohsin Hamid's novel of the same name, and this was one of the few times that I have picked up a book after watching a film based on it. I'm glad I did that, because although I did enjoy Nair's movie, unfortunately it did not do justice to the thriller-like treatment and gripping pace of Hamid's novel.

Riz Ahmed does a fabulously layered job of playing Changez Khan - the enthusiastic and driven youngster who gradually transforms into an intellectual and a fundamentalist. His coming-of-age story unfolds against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks famously dubbed the "9/11 attacks". He is also able to bring out the anguish felt by an innocent bystander when he is falsely implicated by association for a crime that he neither planned nor executed. We understand Changez's journey in the film, and we also sympathize. But this is very different from the reaction that you feel for Hamid's protagonist in the book. 
Nair treats her Changez as a typical "hero", not unlike the angry young man trope of popular Hindi cinema - a young man who has been unfairly wronged and as a result looks for payback. Hamid paints a far more sinister picture of Changez. One does not react with sympathy to the Chagez of the book at all. Instead, one feels a bit unsettled by this slightly dangerous and sly individual, whose next move cannot be predicted.

In the book, Changez narrates his story to an American over tea and a typically Pakistani meal. The entire novel is a monologue and we never really get to know what Changez's American acquaintance is thinking and feeling. His actions and questions are filtered to us only through Changez's narration. Ironically, Changez's confessional style of telling his story does not enable us to empathize with him. In fact, it makes us more suspicious - we never really know if he is telling us the whole truth or not. Two episodes are especially suspect - Changez's relationship with Erica and his encounter with a publisher in Chile. 

Nair alters quite a bit for the movie. Erica (played by Kate Hudson) and Changez's love story in the film is completely different from the one in the book. The film is, perhaps, better for this. Erica in the book is touchingly poetic and ethereal, and she would have probably come off as vague in the film. In the film, she has a stronger presence and a voice. The film is as much about her struggle with her past as it is about Changez's struggle with his present. Plus, Nair packs Changez's story within a kidnapping plot which distracts one from the main plot. And I couldn't figure out what Imad Shah and Chandrachur Singh were doing in itty-bitty, inconsequential parts.

Still, I would not recommend one over the other. Both the book and the movie have their own respective strengths and shortcomings. In fact, I would say watch the movie and read the book - in that order. You will definitely enjoy the book, and if you've not had a very heavy meal, will also remain awake to enjoy the movie.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Apna Bombay Talkies - A (Almost) Fitting Tribute

Bombay Talkies

Bombay Talkies, released on May 3, 2013, is being marketed and sold as a tribute to the completion of 100 years of the Mumbai Film Industry. Featuring four short films by an eclectic selection of directors - Karan Johar, Dibakar Bannerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap - the "film" focuses on the relationship between cinema and its audience. Before watching the film, I did wonder why only these four film-makers were chosen. Perhaps it was because Johar, Akhtar, Bannerjee and Kashyap seem to represent the creature that Hindi cinema has become in the past few years - a mix of hardcore commercial fare, which even now regurgitates values and methods of representation that sell larger-than-life people and stories; and the more edgy and world cinema-influenced style of film-making that refuses to be user-friendly and escapist.There could be a long debate about whether the four film-makers who participated in this tribute were the right choice or not, but they have definitely made the right films. 

The subject of the four films itself is riveting: the magical and mysterious ways in which cinema connects to its audience. No audience of cinema is passive and engages with it in complex ways. The most obvious way in which this happens is, of course, through film stars who quickly become icons. In its most basic form, the relationship between the star and her fan is of adulation and emulation; and in its most extreme form, it can take the form of worship. This is evidenced in the many temples dedicated to male stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Rajanikanth who have achieved a demigod status for their fans. An aspect of this relationship has been explored by Anurag Kashyap in his segment in Bombay Talkies. Vijay (Vineet Kumar Singh) marks a long, patient and extremely frustrating wait in front of Amitabh Bachchan's home only so that he can get Bachchan to take a bite of the murrabba his mother has sent for him in a glass jar. Vijay does finally get his wish, but only after a near-nervous breakdown. The Amitabh Bachchan he meets is far from his on-screen heroic persona, or even his small screen magnanimous and friendly KBC avatar. Instead, Bachchan is a star exasperated and slightly irritable with this persistent fan who wants to touch his feet and feed him murrabba. The star that Vijay (and his father) worship is humanized and the meeting of star and fan is not as grand as one had thought it would be. It is fleeting, momentary, and we are sure Bachchan may not even remember it, but conversely, it is permanently etched onto Vijay's memory. It will certainly become exaggerated and romanticized in his head. What is daily business for the star is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fan.

If Kashyap's story depicts the reality of the star-fan encounter, then Akhtar's film is all about its fantasy aspect. Vicky (Naman Jain), a young boy, is obssessed with Katrina Kaif and her dance moves. He is not interested in football, and would rather learn dance. But he is only a child, still not aware of how well-slotted and categorized the adult world is, especially in terms of acceptable gender behaviour. So, he does not think anything of dressing up in his sister's clothes, putting on his mother's make-up and heels and swinging his hips to Aaj ki raat from Don. He is almost ready to give up his dream when his father yells at him for his actions, but is saved by Katrina Kaif herself when she comes to him in the form of a fairy godmother. The film touches upon the effect a star's persona has on a child, who is much more gullible to all the glamour. But it is also about how quick we are in labeling children and their ambitions. Vicky's father is thrilled when Vicky pretends that he wants to be a pilot when he grows up, but thrashes him about his dancing. A child's completely harmless ambition is labelled as deviant, and he is threatened into not exploring himself and his dreams. 

Dibakar Bannerjee casts Nawauddin Siddiqui as the commonest of common men in his short film. He lives in a cramped chawl with his wife and daughter, and is job-hunting, probably to make ends meet. He keeps a pet emu named Anjali, a relic of a failed business venture, and wants to be a hero for his daughter more that he wants a job. And he gets his chance when he is asked to play a walk-on part in the same frame with Ranbir Kapoor. He is no everyday star-struck fan, but a theatre actor who was quite a hit on stage in his hometown. There is a sense here that he has probably missed the bus to stardom and fame, but he gives this bit-part his everything. All this not for his own three seconds of fame, but to be able to narrate the days events to his wife, and especially his daughter. So that when he comes home at the end of the day tired and jobless, he is still a hero to his family, and he has not lost all his pride. Bannerjee traces a day in the life of a nobody who gets to rub shoulders with the somebodys of the world - famous film-stars who have entire battalions surrounding them, making sure they look like heroes every single minute of their lives.

Finally, I come to Karan Johar's film. It is actually the first short film you will see, and if you are used to normal Johar fare, then this one's sure to blow you away. This is a Karan Johar we've never seen before. A Karan Johar who was busy hiding behind aarti ki thalis, opulent houses and pastel-shade prettiness. This is a hard-hitting and deeply personal film, which reinterprets two golden classics in unexpected ways. The two songs featured here - Ajeeb dastan hai yeh and Lag jaa gale - are given a completely new meaning. I don't want to say much about this film because that would take away from its impact, except that I liked this film the best. And I hope to see more of Karan Johar Version 2.0. 

Bombay Talkies is not flawless, and perhaps the greatest flaw here is the length of the films. All the films start out well, but the directors - barring Bannerjee - are in a hurry to tie up loose ends. A little open-endedness, a little uncertainity would have been nice. The acting of the entire cast really lifts the movie above its four individual story lines, as each member of the cast makes the role her/ his own. The four directors have done their assignment, which was I suppose to make a film on, well, films. But each director takes it several notches forward, making Bombay Talkies a fitting tribute to Hindi cinema and its far-reaching influence.