True confession. I have never been a fan of animation films. Until now. Bombay Rose, a delicately drawn, elegantly told tale of a forbidden love on the bustling streets of Mumbai between a Muslim boy and a Hindu flower-girl, has induced an instant conversion in me. Not that I will now rush to see the other animation blockbuster, Frozen.
But yes, I will definitely check out writer-director Gitanjali Rao’s next film. Hopefully it will again be animation. She excels at drawing out the innermost humane characteristics of the people who occupy her luscious landscape. At the end of the 90-plus minutes of the film, I felt I knew every character by heart. The contumacious Salim (voiced in a commanding baritone by Amit Deondi) whose quiet love trails the film like a stubborn shadow. The villainous Mike (menacingly voiced by Makarand Deshpande), the wise Grandfather (Veerendra Saxena, sagely and savvy), Salim’s chuckle-filled confidante the paanwala Mishraji (voiced by Rajeev Raj), the wholesale flower seller (Geetanjali Kulkarni who furnishes such astonishing vivacity on the character with just her voice), the nostalgia-soaked Mrs D’Souza (Amardeep Jha, bringing a sense of the Anglo-world gone-by with songs like Tally ho and Aaiye meherbaan), her suitor Anthony (Shishir Sharma, old world charm), Kamala’s little sister Tara (Gargi Shitole, so bright and sunshiny) and above all Kamala.
Voiced with majestic melancholy by Cyli Khare, Kamala is the consummate captivating utterly enchanting heroine. She sells beaded flowers by the day and dances in a bar by night to educate her sister. She holds her head high in spite of the wretched poverty and lurking dangers. No self pity here. No tears.
“It’s okay to cry sometimes,” her grandfather reminds her. Only a state of supreme grace endorsed by the whole city of Mumbai as it seems to salute Kamala’s dignity and grit amidst the squalor and crime that creeps up on her from every shadow.
Bombay Rose is a remarkable achievement in the truest sense. It recreates the heartbeat of Mumbai’s street children and their unvanquished guardians sweeping us into their brave bright lives (never a dull moment) with a flourish and flair that are irresistibly seductive.
I believe every frame, every strand of hair on the lovely Kamala’s forehead, was hand-painted by Gitanjali Rao and her excellent team of artisans, magnificent craftsmen and women who have built the cinematic version of the Taj Mahal where fantasy runs into reality and dreams soar into the sky with a rush of wonderment and incredulity.
Bombay Rose is a unique achievement, not just in the field of animation. If this was a feature film only Sanjay Leela Bhansali could have done justice to it.
Image source: IMDb
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