Bombay Rose is a 2019 animated film written, edited, designed and directed by Gitanjali Rao.
Bombay Rose’s water-coloured streets look like places you have visited before if you’re a Mumbai native or have spent any time in the city. Yet, there’s something very distinctive and new about it. The familiarity and the uniqueness come from the way director Gitanjali Rao blends the various facets of the movie together – animation, music and story. The story feels very lived-in, but at the same time, it feels new.
Bombay Rose follows Kamala, who lives in Bombay with her grandfather and little sister Tara. Although she makes a living making flower garlands, she has big dreams for her sister who is the light of her life. However, things, of course, don’t work out the way she imagines when she falls for Salim, a Kashmiri immigrant. As if the religious difference wasn’t enough, there’s also Mike, the typical Hindi movie villain who has ulterior motives for our protagonist.
Dreamy movie Bombay Rose deftly enamours you into its story and although the plot isn’t shocking, it’s that blend that I talked about previously that draws you into it. The movie feels like watching watercolour art moving on the screen. The beauty and deftness with which Rao brings all of its characters together and gives them purpose is commendable.
Other than that, Bombay Rose truly works due to its background score. For the most part, all you will be able to hear are the sounds of the streets – vendors, hawkers, people and cars. But there’s also Kamala’s anklets tinkling whenever she walks and cats meowing here and there. The background score mostly comprises of these organic sounds that we usually hear while out on the street and gives the movie realness and authenticity. When there are songs incorporated, they are usually old-time Bollywood classics that have the power to make you nostalgic.
The animation in the film is a feast to behold. It was created using frames that were painted individually and then put together. The technique is a hybrid between computer animation and traditional animation and gives the movie its own unique visual statement. As I said above, it feels like watercoloured paintings moving on-screen and is absolutely wonderful to watch. The details are absolutely marvellous, but there are times when the colours all fade into each other which is also a beauty to behold.
Bombay Rose veers between time periods while trying to tell its story. The movie is also, in many ways, an ode to the city itself – a city that is ever-changing and always on the move. The city is painted in vivid shades that represent all that it stands for. The movie, also, is an ode to the hundreds and thousands of people who come to the city from different parts of India and become a part of this living and breathing entity.
Additionally, the movie also features a host of other characters who have stories of their own. Although not taking up as much space as our protagonists, their inclusion in the story is just as important because they add another layer of authenticity and a different perspective to the city and the story. Reality and nostalgia lie side-by-side in tandem in Bombay Rose – even in the scenes which are painfully real and true, there are elements that make you feel wistful.
Summing up: Bombay Rose
Bombay Rose has been making rounds at film festivals since 2019. However, the movie hasn’t been open for wider release till now. And it’s a good thing that it’s finally available on Netflix because it’s a visual treat to behold. It’s an oddly comforting watch with a real-world story.
Bombay Rose is streaming on Netflix.
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