"Bombay Talkies" is a series of 4 short stories that are united through the theme of the effect of Bollywood on the every "man". An addition idea, that the visiting actor Vineet Kumar Singh, was also taking stock of where Bombay cinema has been and where it is going. The movies were well done and in discussing them, I will try not to give too much away.
I was really impressed by the themes covered in the movies:
Karan Johar - Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh short examined the lies we force people to tell regarding their sexuality. Thought I felt like I had seen this story a few times before, Nanda pointed out (rightly) that this concept was totally new for Indian cinema. The fact that one of the lead characters was gay was different enough but to not make him a caricature and fall into the Bollywood stereotypes was good to see. When I see homosexuality in Tamil (and my limited Hindi) cinema, it is shown by portraying the character as a Hijra and usually mockingly. I liked seeing the story play out and the fact that this was a very real - a flawed hero, portrayal of this every man in India. I also loved seeing Rani Mukerji with no make up and like the woman I would see on the street.
On a side note (rant), when I told someone about the short, the first thing she said to me is you know he is gay - Karan Johar. No, I didn't know, and didn't care, what I like about him is the depth he brings to his characters. I don't know why we still believe that if you care about LGBTQ+ Issues, then you must be from that community.
Dibakar Banerjee - Star was the saddest for me because it was the most honest. It was the every "man" and maybe resonated with me as I am trying to change my life from expectations to risk taking. The short is about a man who has been unable to succeed in the path that he had wanted and expects his dream life to miraculously appear.
Zoya Akhtar - Sheila Ki Jawaani was the favourite for me. The cast, especially the lead boy and his sister were amazing for their age. It mixed humor (both in the situation and of Bollywood not taking itself seriously) with another taboo topic. The piece looked at gender roles, being transgedered and family in such a unique way. The conversations between the brother and sister were beautiful in their simplicity. There was no grand story to change the world, just acceptance and truth between them.
Anurag Kasjyap - Murabba looked at the full circle of life and what we do for those we love. The heartbreaking scene in the movie is one I can't comprehend - I cannot imagine the viciousness of some, but again - There are always people like that, who are just there to break you, when you are on the top, for no reason other than they can.
I have to admit that I have always wanted my Bollywood to be superficial and formulaic (what can I say, it is my escape) but after watching this, I may have to rethink that.
SIDENOTE/ANIME REFERENCE - SRK (2:54) was in the Bombay Talkies song at the end, the audience went crazy when he came up and all he did for 10 seconds was smile with the wind blowing his hair. Reminded me of talks with Katie and X/1999 - when Kamui enters in the Sakura lined roads, with the wind blowing...