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An English novelist visiting Bombay dives into the passion, pageantry and kaleidoscopic delights of the Indian film industry in Merchant Ivory's delightful spoof of (and salute to) the glorious excesses of Bollywood.
A dazzlingly sumptuous, whirlwind tour through the world of Bollywood cinema, Bombay Talkie is perhaps the most visually ravishing of Merchant Ivory's Indian films. Arriving in Bombay to do research on the Bollywood film industry for an upcoming book, English novelist Lucia Lane (Jennifer Kendal) meets handsome movie star Vikram (Shashi Kapoor) and his screenwriter friend Hari (Zia Mohyeddin). Vikram and Lucia fall in love and begin an affair, which not only causes considerable consternation to Vikram's beautiful young wife but to Hari, who has fallen in love with Lucia as well. Seeking refuge from these romantic disasters, Lucia tries to devote herself to the spiritual life in an ashram — but when this proves to be a dead end, she returns to Vikram, and the various love triangles collide in a final, startling resolution. Deriving its title from the name of one of the earliest Indian film studios of the sound era, Bombay Talkie is a delightful spoof of and salute to the glorious excesses of Bollywood cinema, and received a salute of its own from Wes Anderson when he reused the film's opening credits theme (composed by Satyajit Ray) in The Darjeeling Limited.