Indian Directors Unite for Ensemble Film 'Bombay Talkies' (Video)

Viacom18 Motion Pictures / Flying Unicorn
Anurag Kashyap directing his short film for "Bombay Talkies"

The new project, a collection of four shorts from leading Indian filmmakers, premieres May 3, marking the 100-year anniversary of the first Indian movie.

NEW DELHI – In celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema, four leading Indian directors have come together to make four short films under the title Bombay Talkies. Backed by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Flying Unicorn Entertainment, the four directors featured in the project include leading Bollywood film-maker Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap (whose latest Gangs of Wasseypur premiered at Cannes), Zoya Akhtar (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) and Dibakar Banerjee (Shanghai).

Bombay Talkies will premiere on 3 May, marking the 100-year anniversary of the release of the first Indian film to the day -- Raja Harischandra, directed by Dadasaheb Phalke, in 1913. The silent film was based on the legend of the noble and righteous king Harishchandra, a legendary figure in Hindu religious texts. 

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“Its wonderful to be at a point in time where we can celebrate a historic milestone about Indian cinema completing a hundred years,” said Johar, whose banner Dharma Productions has produced major Bollywood hits such as last year's Agneepath. “Its indeed very exciting that four directors have come together to create an ode to our cinema. My film (which stars actress Rani Mukherjee) is about scattered and repressed relationships. Its about the baggage you carry in a relationship as the result of a troubled childhood.”

“For me 100 years of cinema is a time to party because Indian cinema has survived for so long and grown from strength to strength,” said Kashyap. “My short film is about one man -- [Bollywood icon] Amitabh Bachchan. In fact, its about his home [in Mumbai's Juhu suburb] and the legions of fans that come there just to have a glimpse of the legend. Beyond just being about the iconic status of Bachchan, it's about our relationship with our stars. And how important a role stars play in our lives.”

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“Since the first Indian film was made a century ago, Indians really took to cinema. And we have cultivated our own idiom which has flourished,” said Akhtar whose father Javed Akhtar is one of Bollywood's most respected screenwriters and poets. “My film is about magic and dreams. Its about an eight year old boy who wants to dance like (top Bollywood actress) Katrina Kaif. Its really a fairy tale about the magic of stars.”

Dibakar Banerjee -- whose 2012 film Shanghai was based on Greek author Vassilis Vassilikos' acclaimed political novel Z -- says he saw Bombay Talkies as an opportunity to make his first short film. “I always wanted to make a short film and when this project came about, I jumped at it. My film is based on a short story by Satyajit Ray (another major figure in Indian cinema of old)," said Banerjee. “Its about one day in the life of a failed actor who is given that one last chance. I think it is indeed fortuitous that to mark the centennial of Indian cinema, I am making a film based on a story by Ray.”

See below for the Bombay Talkies trailer: