Bombay Rose Parent Guide
This hand painted animated film is uniquely beautiful but its story is disappointing.
Parent Movie Review
“You know how it is - misfortune is always around the corner for the poor.”
This comment by a streetwise merchant could easily be the tagline for Bombay Rose. Forced into marriage at an early age, Kamala (voiced by Cyli Khare) was only freed when her grandfather helped her and her young sister, Tara (Gargi Shitole), run away with him to Bombay (also called Mumbai). Now her disabled grandfather repairs watches and Kamala spends her day making floral garlands, determined to keep Tara in school. But she’s getting desperate and is considering accepting a dubious offer to work in Dubai.
Kamala’s not the only person anxiously trying to build a better future. An ambitious young Muslim man named Salim (Amit Deondi) is the floral equivalent of a squeegee guy, trying to hawk blooms directly to car drivers in the middle of the road. One day he looks across the street and is smitten by Kamala, to whom he gives a red rose. But romance doesn’t come easily in Bombay, especially when a couple are poor, have different faiths, and are keeping big secrets…
To be honest, the story is not the best part of Bombay Rose. The plot moves at a snail’s pace and occasionally causes some cultural confusion for Western viewers. The romance between Kamala and Salim is, frankly, a pretty thin foundation for a full-length film. The handsome couple share plenty of long, yearning glances, but they rarely speak. I have a hard time seeing profound love between people who barely know each other. Other aspects of the plot – Tara’s rescue of a deaf and mute child, Ms. D’Souza’s (Amardeep Jha) grief for a departed love, a rose’s view of the world – don’t always gel together into a cohesive story. Too often this film feels like a series of animated shorts that have been shoehorned together into a single feature, which shouldn’t be a surprise since it has its origins in a short film entitled TrueLoveStory. Apparently Bombay Rose can’t escape its roots.
What makes this production stand out is its unique and compelling animation. Over 100 animators meticulously hand painted every single frame of the film, giving it a luminous and slightly dreamy quality. In a world of computer generated animated features, this is uniquely beautiful. The animation isn’t just lovely to look at; it also gives clues to the emotional lives of the characters. When the bereaved Ms. D’Souza walks through Bombay, the images fade to black and white and the modern city goes back in time – appropriate for a character whose heart is trapped in the past. Kamala’s dreams of escape are illustrated in romantic daydreams set in India’s Mughal Empire – which are portrayed in stylized Mughal-style art. The variety in styles doesn’t fracture the story; rather it gives a richness and depth to the film’s visual design. Throw in some magical realism and this film is a feast for the eyes.
Sadly, even the gorgeous animation isn’t enough to make Bombay Rose a winning film for a mass audience. There is too much smoking, alcohol consumption, and violence for young viewers and the topics are too mature for them anyway. The movie’s unconvincing romance will deter fans of love stories. The real audience for this movie is animation fans. If you geek out over the history of animated films; if you debate the pros and cons of hand drawn and computer generated animation; if you are always looking for something new in the world of animation, this could be love at first sight. And that will likely last longer than the romance in the film.Directed by Gitanjali Rao. Starring Anurag Kashyap, Makrand Deshpande, and Geetanjali Kulkarni. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release March 8, 2021. Updated March 12, 2021
Watch the trailer for Bombay Rose
Rating & Content Info
Why is Bombay Rose rated PG-13? Bombay Rose is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic/suggestive material, smoking, some violence and language.
Violence: A character in a film knocks down a war and has a fistfight with another character, punching him in the head. Gunshots are heard. There is mention of a young girl being sold into marriage. A man and woman are shot and killed by soldiers; blood is seen flowing out of a bullet wound. Men have a fistfight, punching and shoving. A man is hit by a car. It is implied that someone has killed themselves. A man threatens to destroy a woman’s family.
Sexual Content: A man and woman embrace on screen; a kiss is censored. A woman kisses a man on the cheek. A young girl is sold into marriage. A man’s back is seen as he bathes. There are several scenes of women dancing provocatively. A man calls a woman a whore. There is brief reference to an actor who was either a transvestite or transexual: no detail is provided.
Profanity: There are a handful of minor profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters frequently smoke cigarettes. Bottles of alcohol are seen. A man drinks from a flask: alcohol is implied. A man is seen intoxicated and unconscious. A man smokes a hookah. A main character drinks whiskey.
Page last updated March 12, 2021
Bombay Rose Parents' Guide
You can learn more about the distinctive art in this film here:
Animation World Network: “Bombay Rose” Paints an Intimate Portrait of India’s Past and Present
Kamala was forced into marriage at an early age. For more information about this practice in India and worldwide, check out these articles:
Girls Not Brides:
Girls Not Brides: What Is Child Marriage?
Unicef: End Child Marriage
The Washington Post: Why can 12 year olds still get married in the United States?
Unchained at Last: Ending Child Marriage
Salim is warned about the unlikeliness of a successful relationship with a Hindu woman. Interfaith marriages in India can be dangerous, with strong cultural prohibitions against the practice.