Bombay Rose (2019) ***

December 2nd, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri/Animator: Gitanjali Rao | 90, India

Gitanjali Rao’s lavish animated fable gleams with thematic jewels almost stifling the romantic storyline buried beneath its visual splendour.

This meticulously handcrafted gem is Gitanjali’s feature debut and, to her credit, she has directed, written and delicately drawn the vibrant animations which pay tribute to the magical city of Bombay that sees criminals go cheek and jowl with market traders, school kids and ordinary people going about there business in India’s jostling cinema city .

There almost didn’t need to be a storyline as sequences unfold into sequences, cleverly tumbling in a out of each other as one thing leads to the next in the densely packed metropolis. Kamala (voiced by Cyli Khare) works as a dancer at a dodgy nightclub while hoping to seal a marriage deal in Dubai so she can raise her younger sister Tara and finance her disabled grandfather, now on his last legs, quite literally. Into the narrative she careful weaves thorny themes of corruption, misogyny and child labour. Kamala’s sexy love interest comes in the shape of Salim (Amit Deondi), a Kashmiri guy forced to sell flowers he steals from the nearby graveyard. Meanwhile there is Mrs D’Souza (Amardeep Jha), a glamorous old former Bollywood actress who lives in private splendour of her own amidst a rose garden, and helps Tara with her English lessons, explaining the intricacies of colour to the little girl as they pick roses, enjoying the heady scent.

To watch Bombay Rose is to enter a world intoxicated by colour, from carmine to indigo, purple and mauve. Exotic horses take flight on magic carpets yet on the streets of the city poverty reigns fraught with the urban clamour of trucks and bicycles and bands and musical interludes.

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