Bombay Rose Review: This Animated Film Is A Visual Poetry You Wouldn’t Want To Miss


Bombay Rose Review: The film is will soon stream on Netflix and directed by Gitanjali Rao, Bombay Rose was the first Indian Animation film ever selected to open Venice’s Critics Week in 2019.

Rao reportedly spent six years crafting this detailed urban romance and what a fabulous job she has done – one can see each frame coming alive with an endearing precision. As for me, I remember watching this film quite some months ago and even to this day, the oil painting-like-montages continue to evoke a sense of fascination. Set in Bombay, each shot is an ode to the city, each stroke a tribute. And all of it is peppered with a fitting soundtrack, which ranges from Bollywood classics to a Konkani love song to the film’s beautiful original score.

The film was also screened at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema section. It tells the story a flower seller falling in love with someone whom society will never approve of. The protagonist also has to make the choice between protecting her family or following her heart. Bombay Rose is made by frame-by-frame painted animation and the film has been written, designed and directed single-handedly by Gitanjali Rao. Produced by Anand Mahindra and Rohit Khattar under Cinestaan Film Company, Bombay Rose was in co-production with Film d’Ici.

What is it About?

The film follows multiple storylines. We have Kamala (voiced by Cyli Khare), a young Hindu woman who sells flower by the day and dances at a nightclub by the night. She falls in love with a Muslim boy Salim (Amit Deondi) whose parents were killed in the Kashmir Civil War: it’s a star-crossed romance from the very beginning since Kamala also seems fated to marry the local gangster Mike (Makarand Deshpande).

There is also Tara (Gargi Shitole), Kamala’s younger sister who rescues a deaf-and-mute child labourer with a cat and brings the child home. We also meet Tara’s English teacher Mrs D’Souza (Amardeep Jha), who only lives half in the present and is haunted by memories of her glory days and a long-lost love.

Well deserving of All Appreciations

The multiple plotlines of Bombay Rose do not neatly come together in the end – the scenes feel like they are scattered all over. But somehow this fragmentary nature of the montages work out for it oddly brings alive the essence of life in a city as big and diverse as Bombay. Further, because the film fragments our linear idea of time and tells its story more in a mythological stream-of-consciousness style, the frames really work out in this aspect as well. Additionally, the animated look of the characters enhances the mythical and folkish angle of Rao’s art.

It is also very interesting as to how Rao makes this film fit the international standards without once letting go of her Indian roots. Bombay Rose touches upon many modern-day problems prevalent within the country, from poverty to economic exploitation of children to love jihad to the Kashmir issue. But never for once does the audience feel as if any of these issues are being capitalised merely to provide the Western eye with an aesthetic. In fact, the film’s visual evocation of Bombay’s slums is something that lingers on in one’s mind long past the end credits. Rao also chooses to tell her story mostly from the point of view of three women belonging to three different generations – her rose from the title of the film seems to be Kamala herself.

All in all, Bombay Rose is a beautiful story, told in an equally beautiful manner. Watch it if you want to witness some real art blossoming on your small screens, it won’t disappoint you.

Picture Credit: YouTube ScreenGrab

Views expressed are the author’s own.