Two Indias: The Have and Have-Nots of Bombay Summer

Geetha (Tannishtha Chatterjee), a modern gal all the way, earns her keep at a Bombay graphic-design firm and carries on a clandestine affair with aspirant writer Jaidev (Samrat Chakrabarti). Both are well-heeled, expensively educated, slipping freely between English and Hindi in conversation—a world away from Madan (Jatin Goswami), who Geetha meets while hiring for a design job. An underclass aesthete, what Madan can’t earn from art, he makes delivering drugs and liquor. As they form a tentative platonic threesome, Madan becomes Geetha and Jaidev’s passport to an extended vacation in the old Bombay: the shell of a textile mill, a shop where he hand-paints Hindi movie posters, his rundown tenement—all picturesque as long as you’re just passing through. Bombay Summer is the confident first fiction film by Indian-American director Joseph Mathew-Varghese, a former photojournalist and documentarian, who gives every scene its own texture, aided enormously by the soundtrack collaboration of Mathias Duplessy and Rajasthani vocalist Mir Mukhtiyar Ali. Mathew-Varghese has a mostly casual, anecdotal approach to establishing character, and the emotional verity of the actors (Chatterjee is unaffected, and very fetching for it) grounds the last reel’s pathos—though Bombay Summer’s keen sense of nostalgia for a fleeting present is the real heartbreaker.

 
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