Netflix has another potential animated Oscar contender with “Bombay Rose,” which kicks off the streamer’s India deal on December 4. The 2D festival fave was directed by Gitanjali Rao (who made the acclaimed “Printed Rainbow” short). It’s a colorful, hand-painted delight about a red rose bringing together three tales of impossible love between a young Hindu girl and a Muslim youth, two women, and an entire city.
Based on true events, “Bombay Rose” chronicles the struggles of people who migrate to Mumbai from small towns, and the importance of Bollywood movie fantasies to take their minds off living in the ruthless, crowded city. Painted frame-by-frame by Mumbai-based Paperboat Animation Studios, “Bombay Rose” entices with its aesthetic and doesn’t shy away from such topical themes as inter-faith romance, economic migration, and child labor.
What’s noteworthy is the way in which Rao designed urban reality with a striking documentary style, while the intricate dream worlds were inspired by India’s rich and varied folk art styles.
“Life for most street dwellers in Bombay is a day-to-day struggle for survival,” said Rao in a prepared statement. “Steeped in deprivation, homelessness, and lacking basic human rights, people escape to the cinemas to forget reality. Bollywood, for a few hours, offers this fantasy. But when the same fantasy begins to influence and substitute reality, the balance is lost.
“I have always wanted to tell the stories about the unsung heroes who live and love in Bombay, never become success stories, yet their struggle for survival makes heroes out of them,” added Rao. “The use of frame-by-frame painted animation enables me to traverse seamlessly between the real and the dream world, poetically rather than realistically. Steering away from the convention of using voices and the acting skills of Bollywood stars who do not belong to the milieu of my characters, I believe in encouraging the animators to use their own acting skills to breathe life into them. ‘Bombay Rose’ is homage to the undying romantic, living the celluloid dream.”