One person who might not complain about the controversy over Mumbai's dance bars is Gitanjali Rao, who is ready to shoot her new 2D animation film, Bombay Rose. She says, "It's a love story which blossoms on the streets of Mumbai, between a Kashmiri boy, Salim, and a bar dancer, Kamla. It is set in 2005, when the girl is forced into prostitution following the ban on dance bars."
Titled True Love Story in an earlier, shorter version, the 20-min feature film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. A lack of funds had prevented a full-length version being made – till now.
Bombay Rose will be produced by Les Films d’Ici, a French production company, which has raised half the funds needed for filming to begin in early 2016. Rao needs a few more producers to back it. And she has found a novel way to get there.
The film involves three interlinked stories. So she has decided to make them separately as the funding rolls in, without waiting for the entire amount to be collected.
Making a full-length animation film has always been an uphill task for Rao. Only eight-and-a-half of the 70-minute Girgit (2008) had been made when the production fell through. And Disney pulled out of her Shadows of Mahabharata (2010).
In 2002, when Rao was working for an animation studio, she took some time out to make Orange. It depicts two women discussing their love lives over drinks at a bar. The four-minute film ran into complications with the Indian censor board, which found the content a little too explicit. But Orange went to international film festivals and won several awards.
Fired by its success, Rao spent three years painting frames of love inspired by her mother and cat. She called it Printed Rainbow (2006). The 15-minute film premiered at Cannes in 2006 and won Best Short Film in the Critics' Week section. It follows the fictional adventures of an old woman and her cat through a treasure of match-box covers.
As Rao begins work on Bombay Rose, she is hopeful that things will work out this time around. However, she cannot commit to a release date. "It takes two-and-a-half to three years to make an animated film, so it's too early."