Bombairiya makes a case for a strong witness protection programme, but the takeaway from it actually is, don’t get involved in other people’s hassles and never, never lend your phone to a stranger
For a first-time director – Pia Sukanya– to even attempt a film like Bombairiya is as admirable as it is foolhardy, because a plot in which multiple characters run riot for too small a payoff, is next to impossible to pull off even for experienced filmmakers.
If, after some minutes of random chaos, the audience starts going Huh? What? instead of getting lost in the pandemonium, the film is in trouble. It all starts when a PR girl Meghna (Radhika Apte) has her phone snatched by a man, nicknamed Prem (Siddhanth Kapoor), when the auto she was in collided with his scooter. Not only does the missing phone mess up an assignment involving her client, movie star Karan Kapoor (Ravi Kishan), it also has a steamy video that must not be leaked.
Pintu (Akshay Oberoi), who witness the incident, offers to help and gets caught up in the mess, as Meghna hitches a ride in his car and uses his phone, to try to sort out matters rapidly going out of control. Prem, who was to deliver a package is also in a soup, and believes a killer (Amit Sial) is after him. Orchestrating part of the proceedings from jail cell is a politician (Adil Hussain), who has to stop a mysterious witness from testifying against him.
Involved in the circus are cops, gangsters, parents trying to follow the bizarre goings-on, Karan’s politician wife (Shilpa Shukla) and two fans promised a meeting with the star, who has left his shoot and decamped to an unknown location.
Characters keep running into one another as if Mumbai were a village, they reach distant locations in seemingly record time, never encountering traffic jams, phones are constantly being answered by the wrong person, and after a point, even the actors give up trying to make sense of the knotty script.
There are undoubtedly some moments of humour, and several scenes infused with a manic energy, but not enough to sustain interest for the extended running time, especially since the gags get repetitive. The editor (Antara Lahiri) must have had a hell of a time putting the film together, so it has some semblance of order.
In the end, Bombairiya makes a case for a strong witness protection programme, but the takeaway from it actually is, don’t get involved in other people’s hassles and never, never lend your phone to a stranger.
Directed by Pia Sukanya
Cast: Radhika Apte, Siddhanth Kapoor, Akshay Oberoi, Amit Sial, Adil Hussain and others
Rating: Two stars
By Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.