Cast: Radhika Apte, Siddhanth Kapoor, Akshay Oberoi, Adil Hussain, Ravi Kishan, Amit Sial, Ajinkya Deo, Shilpa Shukla
Director: Pia Sukanya
Some of the filmmakers who manage to find distributors and exhibitors to release their films must thank the fast-changing technology to come to their rescue. After all, with the advent of the Internet, mobile phones, social media et al, some of their great — and many infertile — ideas seem to be getting a fresh lease of life. All their efforts are commendable — and we have endless instances of some brilliant minds using all the modern gizmos and gadgets to fine use — but in the black comedy Bombairiya, which is Pia Sukanya’s directorial debut, there is more drama than anything else (the three writers possibly said: Plot? What’s that?) to keep the viewers engaged.
Written and produced by Michael E. Ward with the story collaborated from the joint efforts of Ward, Sukanya and Aarti Bagdi, the film opens with the story of Meghna (Radhika Apte) a Mumbai-based public relations manager. After an unlikely incident she finds herself running into two strangers (Akshay Oberoi and Siddhant Kapoor). They may be unknown but need each other, and therefore stick together.
Meghna gets embroiled in a series of mishaps after her phone gets stolen one day. Soon, we get introduced to several characters, as one after the other, we get a glimpse of a bunch of many lives — mostly dysfunctional — who don’t seem to be getting anywhere for a semblance of normalcy.
A quarrel ensues on a busy street in Mumbai; a mobile phone gets grabbed in the free-for-all that follows, and a sudden chaos leads to further confusion: an imprisoned minister (Adil Hussain) gets all hassled; a film star (Ravi Kishan) throws his weight and sulks; a police commissioner orders an enquiry; a mysterious encounter specialist (Amit Sial) goes on an unexplained mission; a courier guy Prem (Kapoor) rides a pink scooter; Karan’s wife and politician (Shilpa Shukla) snoops on her husband; a young man Abhishek (Oberoi), who is a witness to Meghna’s plight, tries to be some sort of a saviour. In the midst of such stray incidents, a radio jockey appears out of the blue to announce the names of winners who have won a contest. Obviously, the missing phone is not just another phone: it contains a clear give-away evidence that would implicate “somebody” and could prove to be much more dangerous. To add mystery (read vagueness!) to the proceedings, there are references to a missing cop and his daughter as people walk with guns.
Right from the onset, the film keeps talking about “witness protection” and, so, we know that there is some sort of crime too, underneath the flimsy escapades of numerous eccentrics trying to find reason. Picking one incident to explain will make matters more unfathomable. Suffice it to add that there is an interweaving of stories of various men and women that leaves you even more dazed.
Bombairiya makes you feel that the city of Mumbai is nothing but a disorderly chaotic mess with precious little variation. Some good actors like Adil Hussain, Radhika Apte, Amit Sial, Shilpa Shukla, Ravi Kishan don’t have a clue where they are headed. And, if that’s not all, the fast pace and smart editing of the nearly two-hour film leaves you even more baffled. At several cuts, you feel like going back to the earlier scene to get a hang of what is intended. Clearly, it’s poor writing that does little for you to keep your interest going.
While watching this rather ineffective film, what immediately comes to mind is the unparalleled 1983 black humour film directed by Kundan Shah and produced by NFDC — Jane Bhi Do Yaro — that has become a cult classic for its superb satirical depiction of the essential, timeless, human condition.
Just what was the film trying to tell us?