'Bombairiya' Review: Honest effort marred by a disjointed screenplay

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Hyperlink cinema isn’t still very common to Hindi cinema. And good hyperlink cinema is even rarer to come by. Pia Sukanya’s debut comic thriller Bombairiya is the latest addition to a small bunch of Hindi films that have tried to be true to the construct of hyperlink cinema. Some of the best examples of the genre are Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993), Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros (2000), Fernando Meirelles’ City of God (2002), and Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005). The most common characteristic of hyperlink cinema is interwoven storylines that seem to connect multiple characters. The connection is usually revealed slowly to the audience and generally it is only during the film’s climax that all the dots finally connect.

Bombairiya, which recently had its world premiere at the first ever Diorama International Film Festival in Delhi ahead of its theatrical release, revolves around a self-centred PR professional named Meghna (played by Radhika Apte) who works for a washed out movie star (essayed by Ravi Kishan). The story follows Meghna on a maddening day which begins with her cellphone getting stolen in a most bizarre manner possible. As she desperately tries to get her cellphone back she gets caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare of sorts that threatens her very existence.  Beyond the mess that she can roughly estimate there actually are much bigger forces at work than she can possible imagine. During her quest she comes across many seemingly innocuous people but she finds it difficult to trust any of them even as the bigger players in this game of chess are out to get her.
Bombairiya can certainly be described as an honest attempt made by a first-time filmmaker to capture the maddening chaos that is the city of Mumbai. But while her intention is genuine the execution somewhere falls short. While Pia succeeds in eliciting solid performances from all her actors she gets a bit incapacitated by the humongous number of characters that have been ambitiously written into the screenplay. While this may have worked in a series, a two-hour film isn’t really a perfect conduit for overindulgence in secondary characters which could have been easily reduced to half.  This would have allowed a better scope for character development for the remaining characters.  Also the narrative would have flown far more smoothly. In its current state, Bombairiya not only feels disjointed but it also appears to be lacking in purpose. The ingredients are all there but they are blended so disproportionately that they fail to register themselves on our palate the way they are supposed to.

Rating: 4/10
This review was first published in The Sunday Guardian.
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