Animated heart-warmer Bombay Rose premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival to great fanfare and is now streaming on Netflix. The hand-painted film explores the unspoken love stories that take place on the streets of Mumbai, all told through the point of view of a single red rose.
Based on true events, the film is a full-length directorial debut for Gitanjali Rao, as well as the first Indian animated film to stream on Netflix. But just who is the talented director behind this touching story?
Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about Gitanjali Rao.
Who is 'Bombay Rose' director Gitanjali Rao?
Director of Bombay Rose Gitanjali Rao didn’t always plan on being a filmmaker. She graduated with a bachelor’s in applied arts from the prestigious J.J. School of Art in Mumbai, but while in her senior year, also found herself captivated by Eastern European animated films that she saw at film festivals.
After graduation, Gitanjali started working at studios in Mumbai, where she taught herself animation and filmmaking on the job.
Prior to Bombay Rose, Gitanjali had independently produced, directed, and animated her first short films, Orange and Printed Rainbow, both of which won a slew of awards. Printed Rainbow also went on to be the first Indian animated film selected for the Cannes Film Festival, where it won an award for Best Short Film.
Gitanjali came up with the story for Bombay Rose after she was inspired to create characters based on the young flower sellers she would encounter while stuck in Mumbai's traffic jams. She then built her story around how she imagined these young people “express their love coming from different states, speaking different languages with only Bollywood as their reference to express love.”
The artist-director also took inspiration from old Bollywood movies to illustrate how those films influence the lives of everyday people, using different visual styles to illustrate the different realities of the film’s various characters.
Although Gitanjali is trained as an artist, she sees herself as “essentially a painter who also animates and directs films,” and it is arguably this strong visual sensibility that gives Bombay Rose its distinct look.
For the film, Gitanjali said that she drew inspiration from many artistic styles, from Persian miniatures to the street art of Mumbai.
Despite being an animator herself, Gitanjali opted to work with a professional studio for this project. To bring Bombay Rose to life, the filmmaker worked with Mumbai-based Paperboat Animation Studios, first starting with 20 artists and later expanding to around 80.
She said that the entire film was made using only Adobe Photoshop, Flash, and After Effects. “Nothing very complicated,” she explained.
It took a total of six years for Gitanjali to make her idea for Bombay Rose a reality. While she was still developing the movie, she also found financing for the project and then spent another 21 months executing the film.
With a limited budget for her project, Gitanjali said that most things were a challenge when it came to making this movie. Since each shot is meticulously hand-painted, frame by frame, it took around two years to execute the movie in addition to the four years Gitanjali had spent securing financing for the project.
All told, Bombay Rose took six years to make but with a team as committed to Gitanjali’s artistic vision as she was, they overcame all obstacles “with dedication and love and passion for the film.”
Stream Bombay Rose on Netflix.