The buzz around Anurag Kashyap's Bombay Velvet is getting louder, and the fact that it opens in India on May 15 tells a tale all right. The movie is strongly tipped to be part of the Cannes Film Festival, whose 68th edition runs from May 13 to May 24.
The Festival will announce its selections towards the end of April in Paris, and Kashyap has been an all-time favourite of Cannes. His Gangs of Wasseypur, Ugly and Bombay Talkies have all been there.
So, by releasing the movie two days after Cannes begins its 12-day roll on the exuberantly scenic French Riviera, Kashyap will do no wrong. He would have followed to the T one of the strictest codes of Cannes: that a movie must have its premiere at the Festival. It should not have been exhibited anywhere else. The only exception that the Festival makes -- and that too occasionally -- is that a film could have had a screening in the country of its origin, in the case of Bombay Velvet, India.
But one supposes Kashyap has played it really safe by scheduling the movie's opening in India on May 15 -- two days after Cannes unrolls its red carpet. In fact, several French pictures do so. They open in Paris and elsewhere a couple of days after Cannes begins.
Cannes is also quite finicky about another aspect. A movie that has tried for a slot in especially any of the other two major European festivals -- Berlin in February and Venice in August-September -- and failed, can seldom hope to be even considered by Cannes.
Berlin and Venice too have similar rules, but this writer in the course of his long association with the Big Three of Europe, has found that it is Cannes which is very particular about this rule.
Bombay Velvet (will Bombay remain or will it be changed to Mumbai?) will have on its cast Anushka Sharma (whose performance in the now playing NH 10 was just fantastic), Ranbir Kapoor Kapoor (whose portrayal of a deaf-mute man in the 2012 Barfi was worth talking about) and Kay Kay Menon (who was superb as a top cop in Kashyap's Black Friday as well as Khurram Meer, al la Claudius, in Shakespeare's Hamlet) among others.
Set in the Bombay of the 1960s (when political parties were not so obsessed with changing names, obliterating history in the process) , Bombay Velvet has been inspired by historian Gyan Prakash's book called, Mumbai Fables. The film centres on boxer Johnny Balraj and upcoming jazz singer Rosie. What happens when their individual aspirations and dreams collide?
One is told that Kashyap was also tempted to do Bombay Velvet after reading James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, a set of four of crime novels which stretch from the late 1940s to the late 1950s. The stories take place in Los Angeles, once a sinister spot for heinous activities.
Kashyap might also have been taken in by Raj Kapoor's Barsaat. For, the Bombay Velvet poster of Ranbir Kapoor (son of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh) has a striking resemblance to the iconic pose of Raj Kapoor (grandfather of Ranbir) and Nargis in Barsaat, a picture that fired the romantic inclination of thousands of men and women over the decades.
And, it is quite possible that the Raj and Nargis pose was so touching because the two were reportedly in love. Raj, though was already married then, but Nargis was not. Later, when she found that Raj would somehow never leave his wife, Krishna, she walked down the Aisle with Sunil Dutt. So goes the story, but like so many other love tales in the film world, we would never know for sure whether Raj and Nargis were off-screen lovers.