Set in 1960s Bombay, the film tells the story of Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor), a street fighter/boxer who is in love with the jazz singer Rosie. Seeing Rosie (Anushka Sharma) with wealthy men further sparks his dream of becoming a "big-shot", believing that if he manages to become rich, he might win Rosie's heart. Balraj and his friend Chimman (Satyadeep Misra) then catch the eye of Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar), a wealthy businessman who is impressed by Balraj and offers him to manage his club "Bombay Velvet", which Khambatta uses to further his illegal tasks and activities. He also nicknames Balraj "Johnny", which then becomes his identification. As well as this, Johnny and Chimman fulfill minor tasks for Khambatta, including capturing a dirty photograph of a minister who Khambatta wants to blackmail. This news reaches Jimmy Mistri, a media reporter, who also happens to be the same wealthy man Johnny had previously seen with Rosie.
Remembering that Johnny had a crush on Rosie, Mistri takes advantage of this and sends Rosie to Johnny's club to get her hands on the photograph of the minister. However, Rosie and Johnny eventually fall in love, until Mistri threatens to reveal Rosie's true identity to Johnny. Therefore, Rosie begins to supply information about Johnny & Khambatta's activities to Mistri. After a photograph of a secret meeting between Bombay's big-shots is leaked, Khambatta guesses that it was Rosie supplying the information and orders her to be killed. Johnny hears of this and forms an enmity with Khambatta, the man who brought him into the crime world.
Johnny fakes Rosie's death and makes her act as if she is her long dead twin sister Rita. But soon Khambatta realises the truth, kidnaps Rosie and tries to kill Johny and they get into a standoff at Bombay Velvet. Khambatta shoots Rosie to provoke Johnny. Johnny angry at this stabs Khambatta and is himself shot dead while trying to carry Rosie to the hospital, outside the club. It is revealed at the start of the end credits that Rosie survives her gunshot.Ranbir Kapoor as Balraj 'Johnny', a boxer/street-fighter
Anushka Sharma as Rosie Noronha, a jazz singer & Rita
Karan Johar as Kaizad Khambata, a flamboyant, quick-witted, Parsi media mogul with a high-end attitude
Kay Kay Menon as Inspector Vishwas Kulkarni, a detective
Manish Choudhary as Jamshed 'Jimmy' Mistry, a newspaper editor
Siddhartha Basu as Romi Patel
Remo Fernandes as a Portuguese man
Vivaan Shah as Tony, Noronha's chauffeur
Sarika Singh as Chimman's wife
Shaanti as Hiral (Khambata's wife)
Varun Grover (Cameo) as a standup-comedian
Raveena Tandon (Cameo)
Mrinmoy Goldar (Cameo)
Satyadeep Misra as Chimman, Balraj's friend
Kashyap was inspired to make such a film after reading L.A. Quartet, a sequence of four crime fiction novels by James Ellroy, set in the late 1940s through the late 1950s in Los Angeles. The novels inspired him to "dig into the dark trenches of the history of Bombay", where he "found a treasure trove that was never-ending".
Bombay Velvet was initially to be produced by Viacom18 but Fox STAR Studios decided to co-produce it with Phantom Films. It is based on Gyan Prakash's book Mumbai Fables and set in early 1950's towards 1970's, before Mumbai became a metropolis. Prakash is also one of the scriptwriters for the film.
Although Hrithik Roshan, Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh and Saif Ali Khan were considered, Ranbir Kapoor was cast as a street fighter, and Anushka Sharma was cast as a jazz singer. Kapoor explained his casting, "The script of Bombay Velvet just fell into my lap. I read it and I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of Anurag's grand vision, his innovative storytelling, his movie-making process; everything that he does so perfectly." This was director Karan Johar's second film after Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge; he was cast as the film's primary antagonist, Kaizad Khambata. His role is said to have been inspired from Russi Karanjia.
Principal photography began in mid-July 2013 and continued till early September 2013. The first schedule was shot at Sri Lanka's Ranmihitenna Mahinda Rajapaksa National Tele Cinema Park, Hambantota. Filming was also done in Colombo, Galle, and Pasikudah. The second schedule was also in Mahinda Rajapaksa National Tele Cinema Park, Sri Lanka, where Sharma and Kapoor rejoined the filming in February. The second schedule completed in March. Parts of the set was left at the National Tele Cinema Park, rather than being dismantled, as it will be used as a tourist attraction site. The third and final schedule was in Mumbai where shooting was held for a ten-day period.
The film was released in only one version and was edited in collaboration by Prerna Saigal (The Lunchbox) and Academy Award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
Bombay Velvet is influenced by Classic Hollywood cinema including Film Noir with its stereotypical caricatures like gangsters, gun molls and femme fatales. The movie draws inspiration from gangster films of the '30s and the '40s like The Roaring Twenties and White Heat and neo-noir films like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential.
A teaser of the film's first-look was released on 28 January 2015, it featured Ranbir Kapoor's avatar in the film "Johnny Balraj", the "big shot". On 29 January 2015, the official first poster was revealed, featuring Johnny Balraj wearing a pinstriped suit and wielding a Thompson submachine gun in each arm. An official trailer was released during the India vs Bangladesh 2015 Cricket World Cup quarter final match, with Kapoor present at the Star Sports 3 studio with the commentators. The film also attracted brand associations worth Rs.20 Crore with brands like Reliance Jio Chat, Saavn, Gillete, GoDaddy among others. To build hype and buzz around the film, Fox Star India and Phantom Films crowdsourced the official fan art for the movie by running a poster design contest on Cupick.
Music director Amit Trivedi began working on the soundtrack after the release of Dev D and has said that the music of Bombay Velvet will reflect the age of 1960s Jazz era of Bollywood.
The lyrics are written by Trivedi's frequent collaborator Amitabh Bhattacharya. The album received rave reviews, including a 300 word review from Milliblog, and was named Best Album of April 2015 by Deccan Music
The song "Fifi" is a remake of the Hindi song "Jaata Kahaan Hai Deewane" from the 1956 film C.I.D. which was originally composed by O. P. Nayyar and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. It was re-created by Mickey McCleary.
The film released on 15 May 2015 in 2600 screens worldwide.
The film received mostly mixed reviews from critics. Performances of Kapoor, Sharma and Johar received positive reviews but the incoherent script was criticised. Arunava Chatterjee of Indiatoday rated it 3.5 stars and said, "While vintage seems to be the new fad in Bollywood, Bombay Velvet deserves a standing ovation in this age of run-of-the-mill Friday releases." Bollywood Hungama also gave it 3.5 stars and said, "On the whole, Bombay Velvet is a visual masterpiece that is rich in form. If you want to be wowed by the detailing of the 1960s, superb performances of Ranbir Kapoor, Karan Johar and Anushka Sharma, then go ahead and watch this film." Shubha Saha of Mid Day gave Bombay Velvet 3.5 stars and said, "Bombay Velvet is more like a roller coaster ride, as it takes you on a dizzy high with its charming ambience and music that is bound to stay with you for long, but later you are brought down not so gently with the underwhelming plot and lack of punches. Watch it for the experience." However, in its screening in Locarno, the film was met with critical acclaim.
The film opened to dull occupancy ranging 10%–20% on first day in which it had flopped at the box office. The film collected ₹52 million (US$810,000) on first day