BOMBAY ROSE is a beautiful hand-painted animation created by award winning animator Gitanjali Rao. Amidst the bustle of a magnetic and multifaceted city, the budding love between two dreamer... Read allBOMBAY ROSE is a beautiful hand-painted animation created by award winning animator Gitanjali Rao. Amidst the bustle of a magnetic and multifaceted city, the budding love between two dreamers is tested by duty and religious divides.BOMBAY ROSE is a beautiful hand-painted animation created by award winning animator Gitanjali Rao. Amidst the bustle of a magnetic and multifaceted city, the budding love between two dreamers is tested by duty and religious divides.
My first thought is about flowers. Not just in its name - Bombay Rose has an overwhelming presence of flowers throughout the film - baskets of flowers of different colours and shapes, markets of flowers where older women gently weave friendships with younger ones, graveyards where the bereaved leave flowers for their lost loves, and roadsides where flowers wait for their customers amidst traffic. There are shirts where flowers are hidden and buns where they are worn. Flowers are woven, strewn, weighed, handed over, bought, sold and stolen. Our two protagonists are both flower sellers - they fall in love over giving and receiving flowers too. For me flowers have always had a very strong association with the lightness with which I want to hold life. Flowers have also meant the ultimate resistance for me. As if just in being their delicate yet resilient selves they defy everything the harsh world of reality wants us to succumb to - fear, falsehood, fate. Flowers offer the possibility that reality is overrated and only when the lines of what we experience in the outer world is connected with what we imagine in our inner worlds of fantasy, that we become whole. Flowers also see death as a natural end without much fuss. I have often felt that that if it was not for flowers probably it would have been difficult for humanity to keep alive hope. In my dreams often I return as a blind flower seller as invading armies siege my city. In Bombay Rose, flowers become what people struggle to be in this city sieged by dreams and death - a wisp of the eternal - like love.
My second thought moves to the past that embraces the film dearly weaving itself into the everyday, refusing to let go. One experiences the by-gones not just in the way the roads, people, signboards and transport change in the nighbourhoods, but also in the revelry at night in the graveyard - of those who have crossed over to the other side. In Bangla 'bhoot' means both past and ghosts. In the film there are toys which no one can repair anymore, and antiques that no one will buy. There are old people who reminisce about their secret love lives listening to old records and those in wheelchairs for whom walking is only present in their memories. It is comforting how the present does not shun the past but grows out of it holding its hand for support. There is sense that the world is shared by not just us in the present, but there are those too remaining from other times. Also there are others - the elderly, the disabled, children, workers, bar dancers and people from various communities and religions who share the screen and the city as a true image of what this country is, and must remain.
Talking about sharing our present, my third thought moves to the animals and birds in Bombay Rose. I have not seen another film recently where so many animals and birds share an almost equal space with the humans and claim the city as their own. There are cats that are saved and those that are saviours, there are dogs rolling about in the sun, there are pigeons who wait by the roadside, and bees bustling around in rose gardens. There is an evil predator - the only one who turns into a villain in human form -from time to time. The animals have their own universe and agency, dealing with humans only when they have to. Their presence keeps the world grounded. And in addition there is also a mythical creature the Buraq - a horse like animal with wings and a woman's head. This leads me to my fourth thought about Bombay Rose.
Buraq - the lightning, the shimmer, the bright - legends say, has carried the Prophet to the seven heavens. In Bombay Rose it flies across the film carrying desires homewards for Salim whose Kashmir is locked in the darkness of his dreams. Every time the present, the real, clams down on Salim, the Buraq is invoked to leap from this into other impossible worlds where he can meet his parents, cross borders into other lands. It appears like water for the thirsty in a desert, like a promise fulfilled for the forgotten, like hope beyond every despair. The Buraq is also engraved in the wooden box where Salim keeps the gajras that Kamala weaves for him with bursting white mogras and a tinge of his rose, and his amulet. The box that stays with Kamala, after. For me Bombay Rose the film itself is my Buraq, my ride to other possible worlds I can imagine to be, and work towards building.
Watch Bombay Rose - it is on Netflix. It is such a stunning piece of work in every way. I especially loved the music and its colours.
- Mar 17, 2021