Anurag Kashyap is one of India’s better movie-makers, whose controversial Black Friday, lay in the cans for a long time before it got the censor certificate for public screening. Based on a book by S. Hussain Zaidi, The True Story of the Bombay Blasts, Kashyap’s film was a ruthlessly bold look at the 1993 explosions that ripped what is called India’s Manhattan.
Kashyap had got into trouble even with his debut work, Paanch. It is yet to hit the screens.
He made several movies since then, including Gulaal, Dev D (a modern look at the Devdas story) and No Smoking. But they certainly did not attract the kind of attention that Black Friday did. In fact, both Gulaal and Dev D were screened at the Venice Film Festival last year.
Koechlin playing Ruth is 20, and lands up in Mumbai to face the usual hassles that most foreigners in India go through. Often, looked upon as a woman of easy virtue, because of the colour of her skin, her youth and single status, Ruth in her desperation to survive only in order to search for the man she feels she loves gets involved with a drug addict, entangled with gangsters and pushed into working in a seedy massage parlourimpresses at VEn.
The narrative unfolds with surprises and shocks at every turn of frame, and The Girl in Yellow Boots has been scripted with a considerable degree of finesse that does not let the viewer make any easy guesswork.
Koechlin’s performance holds out promise, but unfortunately her European looks will greatly limit her roles. Prashant Prakash as Ruth’s boyfriend impresses, and so does Naseeruddin Shah, a “clean” customer who visits the parlour.
However, Kashyap’s creation may find it difficult to get past the multiplex audience, and its chances of making a mark outside metros appear slim.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has been covering the Venice Film Festival for 10 years.)