Saturday, April 10, 2010
In the backdrop of both of the previous stories has been the activity of a mysterious and scruffy old man, who appears to live on the streets, push a cart about, have several mutts for friends…and also be a hired assassin. As it turns out, this man is known as El Chivo (real name Martin), and he abandoned his wife and daughter (Maru) long ago to head out and try to actively change the world. Now, having failed to do so, he has observed his wife’s funeral and watched his daughter living from afar, observing her life in photographs by sneaking into her bedroom. In the meantime, El Chivo rescues Cofi from the car crash and helps him recover from his injury. Sadly, Cofi’s dog-aggression had been encouraged for so long that the Rottweiler ended up killing all of El Chivo’s other canine friends when left alone with them. Distraught, El Chivo moves to shoot Cofi, but cannot bring himself to hurt the dog.
Valeria lies to the public about her love life--in reality, she’s with a man who’s been having an affair, cheating on his wife, and leaving her for the model. Apparently, Valeria has no problem with any of that, despite Daniel’s daughters; in fact, she openly disrespects his family and considers them stupid. And El Chivo/Martin was a complicated, conflicted person: an idealistic, opinionated, headstrong guerilla who believed in making positive changes in the world; a paid assassin who manipulated and tortured and took human life, but still respected it, and eventually wanted to end his business of killing; a man who had failed as a husband and father but deeply regrets it, and just can’t seem to find the strength to try and reconnect with the only family member he has left.
As a fanatical dog lover, I liked this movie partially due to their significant presence, but naturally found the fighting scenes very difficult to watch--more because of the knowledge that such hideously evil acts occur in real life than anything else. At least, I would very much hope that by the year 2000 no animals would have to be harmed in the making of a movie, even in countries that possibly don’t have a set-monitoring entity equivalent to the American Humane Association. Sadly, this cruelty persists in parts of the world. What I read on the IMDb, however, regarding the dogs being heavily sedated in order to appear dead, was hopefully a harmless truth.
The other technical and narrative aspects of the film were mostly superb as well and synthesized perfectly, from the basic staging of shots to the skillful interweaving of the three plotlines. In particular I felt that it was quite well cast and acted. Each performer (including the dogs) was very real and believable in his or her role, and seemed to have fully inhabited it. The characters felt alive. The slower, more subtle dramatic sequences were counterbalanced by moments of great suspense throughout, meaning that the issue of the film’s potentially being a tad overlong is not an unbearable fault.
Being a big fan of musicals in general, I greatly enjoyed this film, which is the quintessential “masala” movie out of ‘Bollywood.’ (For instance, the second song, in which the main couple comes together at the old fort by the sea, is a prime example of picturisation.) And unlike the standard Broadway- or Hollywood-styled movie musical which may tend to jump rather rapidly from song to song, “Bombay” had more plot substance in between fewer song-and-dance sequences, making it seem more like a regular film which happened to contain some musical numbers inserted at strategic points to further the story and enhance its emotions.
The only Indian (and possibly the only foreign-language) film that I currently own is a 2008 animated feature aptly called “Roadside Romeo,” a joint production of Walt Disney & Yash Raj Films that was created entirely in India and directed by Jugal Hansraj. I love this fun movie and would certainly recommend it to anyone else who enjoyed “Bombay,” because it is essentially a Bollywood musical that replaces human characters with anthropomorphic dogs. Like “Bombay,” the plot revolves around a male main character who falls instantly for his love interest, but must fight to be with her.
Romeo and Laila are basically the Shekhar and Shaila of this animated Indian adventure which pays homage to the 'Bollywood genre.'