Bombay Rose

Bombay Rose: plant this award-winning animation on your Netflix watch list

Posted by for Film

Here’s everything you need to know about the exquisitely hand-painted Indian debut from self-taught animator Gitanjali Rao, coming to Netflix this March.     

It’s not every day you hear about an animated film opening for Critics’ Week at a film festival, let alone one that was produced outside of Hollywood. So when we got wind of Bombay Rose – an Indian animation written, edited, designed and directed by Gitanjali Rao – you’d better believe we swivelled in our seats.

Six years in the making, Rao’s debut feature film is a meticulously hand-painted, musical romance that both celebrates and satirises Bollywood cinema. It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, opening for International Critics’ Week. (Fact: it’s the first Indian animated film ever selected to do so.)

Netflix then sensibly snapped it up and scheduled a December 2020 release. After an undisclosed “unexpected technical delay,” this gorgeous film will now be available to watch from Monday 8 March.

Here’s everything you need to know about the film.

Kamala in Bombay Rose
Bombay Rose: Meet Kamala, one of the central characters we follow in the film.

What is Bombay Rose about?

Strap yourself in and prepare to be swept away with this one. Bombay Rose is as bursting with colour as it is interweaving narratives and interlocking subplots but, in a nutshell, it tells three tales of impossible love.

Based on true events, one such story follows Kamala (voiced by Cyli Khare), a young Hindu woman who, accompanied by her younger sister and grandfather, escapes an arranged childhood marriage to work as a flower seller and club dancer.

Bombay Rose: Salim and Kamala
Bombay Rose: Salim and Kamala are two star-crossed lovers.

Now living on the streets of Bombay, she must choose between keeping her family together and a star-crossed romance with Salim (Amit Deondi), whose parents were killed by Kashmir militants.

Floating between the characters’ sweeping daydreams and fantasies and their harsh everyday lives, Bombay Rose paints a loving picture of regular Mumbai folks you won’t forget in a hurry.

Bombay Rose's handpainted frames
Bombay Rose: Each and every single frame was individually painted and animated.

It’s hand-painted, you say?

Yes that wasn’t just a terrible pun. Every single frame was individually painted and animated (with a little CGI finessing) in a process that took 60 artists over 18 months to do. Like we said, six years in the making!

Is there a trailer for Bombay Rose?

Yes! You can watch the trailer below:

What are people saying about Bombay Rose?

Did we mention it’s award-winning? Not only was Bombay Rose also shown at Toronto, Busan and London film festivals, but it also picked up both the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival’s Silver Gateway.

Critics certainly seemed to love it. The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin wrote, “Rao demonstrates a lightness of touch and a very Bollywood knack for melodrama and entertainment that should make the work appealing to both domestic and international audiences as a niche release.”

Writer, direction and animator Gitanjali Rao
Bombay Rose: Writer, direction and animator Gitanjali Rao.

“It’s the film’s lustrous visual evocation of Mumbai’s slums that lingers most,” writes Guy Lodge for Variety, “whether painted in vivid, tactile spice-market hues or, in one remarkable time-lapse scene, stripped layer-by-layer to monochrome, like an oil painting in reverse.”

At the very most, it’s a strong contender for this year’s Oscars race. At the very least, it’s 93 minutes of stunning artistry.

Watch Bombay Rose on Netflix from Monday 8 March.

Images: Netflix     

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