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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bombay Talkie (1970)

A self centered, neurotic British writer (Jennifer Kendal) while visiting India has an affair with a married Bollywood star (Shashi Kapoor, married to Kendal in real life) who is equally vapid and selfish. Directed by James Ivory (and his usual team, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), this is a rather tedious film with two unappealing characters getting together, breaking up, getting together again etc. for almost two hours until we no longer give a damn. They're so unlikable that they deserve each other but almost all of the characters in the film, including Kapoor's cuckolded wife (Aparna Sen), are so insipid that one can't feel any empathy for any of them. There is one exception: An aging Bollywood actress with a penchant for younger men played by Nadira who has more life in her than anyone else in the film. The film's opening credit sequence is clever with billboards around the city listing the film's credits along with drawings of its actors and crew. With Zia Mohyeddin, Utpal Dutt and the ubiquitous Helen, known as the Queen Of The Nautch Girls (she's appeared in over 500 films), in the film's amusing giant typewriter dance sequence.

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