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Salaam Bombay!
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Reviews & Ratings for
Salaam Bombay! More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Excellent movie

Author: David Smith ( from United States
11 February 2005

This was an excellent movie. An adult move for the heavy subtones. I watched this on International FilmClassics channel. This movie can be hard to watch at times as the content was uncomfortable mainly because it involves the life of children on their lives. But being uncomfortable is what makes a good drama movie. Movie is subtitled but this is not an issue when the movie has good content and acting. Another movie on this level as it contains disparity and being lost in life trapped etc. is Night at the Golden Eagle ( both movies will make you happy that all of your problems are small in comparison.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Greetings from the Streets of Bombay

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
13 February 2012

The boy Krishna (Shafiq Syed) is abandoned by his mother at the Apollo Circus and she tells him that he can only return home when he can afford 500 rupees to pay for the bicycle of his brother that he had trashed. Krishna is left behind by the circus and he takes a train to Bombay.

Krishna is called Chaipau by the street children of Bombay and he works delivering and selling tea for Chacha (Irshad Hashmi), who owns a street bar. Krishna befriends the heroin addicted Chillum (Raghubir Yadav) that sells drugs for the drug dealer and caftan Baba Golub (Nana Patekar), and the girl Manju Golub (Hansa Vithal), who is the daughter of Baba with the prostitute Rekha Golub (Aneeta Kanwar). Krishna dreams on saving 500 rupees to return home, but the life on the streets of Bombay is not easy.

"Salaam Bombay!" is the first feature by the Indian director Mira Nair, who became famous in Brazil with the also excellent "Monsoon Wedding". The heartbreaking story follows the saga and the lost of the innocence of the boy Krishna on the streets of Bombay and is very similar to the one of Pedro ("Los Olvidados" - 1950) on the streets of Mexico City; or Pixote ("Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco" – 1981) on the streets of São Paulo; or the anonymous street kids ("Ali Zaoua, Prince de la Rue" – 2000) on the streets of Casablanca. The documentary style is impressive but easy to understand based on the previous career of Mira Nair.

The problem with abandoned children of Third World countries is a sad reality along decades and shameful governments usually transfer the money that could solve or at least improve this social problem to corruption. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): Not Available

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Haunting Movie Debut.

Author: Brigid O Sullivan (wisewebwoman) from Toronto, Canada
22 October 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film is about a 12-year-old street boy, Chipau, played by an actual street child, Shahiq Syed, who through some appalling circumstances comes to Bombay and finds himself among the street children eking out a meagre existence on the filthy, squalid streets of the city.

Writer/Director Mira Nair, in her movie debut, did the extraordinary in preparing for this film. For one, she held workshops for street children so they could "unlearn" the Bollywood type acting they had learned at the cinema and she taught them to just be themselves.

The viewer is left totally engrossed, repelled, appalled and sympathetic, all in turn, repeatedly. The film has the feel and rawness of a documentary. We are "in" the brothel, we are "with" one of the characters when he spins out when withdrawing from his drug. We are with the mother who loses her child to the orphanage - a far more soulless place than the brothel from which the child was removed.

There are many stories intertwining in this film even as the characters' lives entwine. The emotions of the viewer are engaged at all times. Some of the scenes come close to unbearable.

All the children have dreams and develop a companionship with each other, the human spirit wins out, even at the very end when the gutsy and creative Chipau is left alone, just like we saw him in the beginning. A complete cycle of life lived before he reaches another birthday. Desperate, hopeless and desolated. One can only hope that Chipau triumphs in the end. A movie that haunts long after other movies have come and gone. 9 out of 10. An absolute must-see.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Lost Childhoods

Author: rl400 from United Kingdom
22 January 2005

A brilliant but sad film in which we follow abandoned Krishna on his quest to make enough money to return to his village. Along the way we meet the street kids, prostitutes, pimps and dealers he shares everyday life with.

An amazing aspect is that all the child actors in the film are real street kids picked after attending workshops run by Nair and friends. In particular the central performances of Krishna, Manju and Coalpiece (his songs!) are superb. Despite their hardships there are some great moments when you see glimpses of the playful kids within.

The film never wanders into over-sentimentality and at times its hard to believe you're not watching a documentary. Hindi-film music and escapism seeps into everyday life, actors mingle with ordinary people and the whole film is shot in real locations around Mumbai that just drip with atmosphere. This sadly includes the chiller room which was filmed as they found it along with the soul-crushing 'Flowers that never bloom' prayer.

The story wanders and can be slow but this only serves to draw you into their world and leave you sad and angry at the end - at the loss of childhood for these kids and countless others. Still relevant today.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Impossibly Real!

Author: gult from United States
15 December 2005

The most striking feature of Salaam Bombay is how real it is. Its hard to imagine how Mira Nair got those street children to act. Every scene in the movie, including the railway platforms and streets, is as real as it can get. This movie is in-your-face lower class India. Although the theme is depressing, Nair boldly presented what actually happens on the streets of Bombay. Any difficulties that you may face in life will seem minuscule in comparison to the unsurmountable challenges faced by Bombay's street children. 'Haunting' is the word that best describes this film. The background score adds very much to the its strength. Think of it as India's Schindler's List; only, this happens everyday in Bombay. Watch it on a quiet evening and reflect on it for sometime, for maximum effect.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This is a Masterpiece!!

Author: dotyet from Canada
22 December 2004

this movie is a masterpiece!! had heard a lot about this movie earlier (since I was a young kid), but never had a chance to see it. the then Indian film industry does deserve Standing ovation for this one. It clearly speaks about what the dream city Bombay is for certain sections of the society. the character of chaipau, does almost every deed, from smoking, stealing, running, landing in jail, to (attempted or maybe not) murder. he is nothing but a very simple boy, trying to collect enough money to reach his native land, but then he is every time forced to grapple with the viciousness of the so-called dream city.

another one which is on my wishlist is 'Saleem Langde Pe Mat Ro'.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: pan-10
27 June 2000

I agree this is an awesome and overpowering film. A total immersion into a different civilization - different, yet in many ways not unfamiliar. A view into the back streets and underworld of Bombay. The characters are indeed unforgettable. How can I forget "Sweet Sixteen" who never even said one word. The crowd scene at the end reminded me of the crowd scene at the end of "Children of Paradise", the greatest movie ever made, in my opinion.

Another movie about India that I love is Renoir's 1951 film, "The River".

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Extracts an emotional price

Author: bandw from Boulder, CO
7 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the story of eleven-year-old Krishna, left by his mother to work for a circus until he could earn 500 rupees to pay off his brother (who had lied about the debt). But Krishna is soon severed from the circus and goes to the local train station and asks for a ticket to the nearest big city. That city turns out to be Bombay. Once there, Krishna falls in with a band of homeless children who live on the streets. He ekes out a living by taking odd jobs like delivering tea to some locals, plucking chickens, and being a server at a wedding.

Given Krishna's situation, he winds up in the less savory part of the city and in the course of his peregrinations his life becomes entangled with pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, petty thieves, and others of dubious moral quality. We come to know and understand many of these characters in more than a superficial way.

All of this may sound a bit depressing and I found it to be so. This film extracts an emotional price and one has to ask if it is worth it and I would say that it is. The movie has the feel of a documentary and, as such, I felt exposed to a world that I would have never encountered in any other way. If we are to understand the world we live in, then every insight into the lives of others is of value.

In spite of its rather downbeat tone, there is inspiration to be had here. Krishna is ultimately collared by the law and sent to an institution for homeless kids that is regimented and repressive. In short order he makes a dramatic getaway and the scenes of his running down the streets after his escape are a joyous celebration of his freedom and his independence of spirit. Overall Krishna's reactions to his predicament are a testament to his resourcefulness and will to live. If asked, would Krishna admit to a hard life? Is that a question that would occur to him to ask, or a question more likely to be asked by a Westerner? For an even more gut-wrenching story along the same lines read Rohinton Mistry's novel "A Fine Balance" that takes place some twelve years prior to the time of this movie, during the days of the Indian "Emergency" of Indira Ghandi.

When on the way to the institution in the police van, an older riding companion reaches over and touches Krishna's hair and says, "It'll be all right. One day ... in our India, things will be all right." In the almost twenty years since this movie was made one hopes, and senses, that things in India are moving in the direction of proving the old gentleman's prognostication correct.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Salaam Bombay

Author: Andante73 from United States
4 January 2006

I recently saw this movie on DVD and it really moved me. What makes it even more interesting is that it is based on real people. It moved me so much, I am considering helping the "street kids". Once you check this movie out, you will see what I mean. It actually moved me to tears. The actual trust is mentioned in the special features on the DVD. Don't worry, I won't give it away.(smile) Salaam Bombay is a real treat and will make one appreciate what one has. Sometimes, in the United States, we can become self-absorbed in our daily lives. It was refreshing to see a movie that did not rely on special effects and people with looks and no talent. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Triple Sundae of Punch in the Guts

Author: Kartik from India
28 May 2013

One of the 3 Indian movies to be nominated for an Oscar in over 50 years since the 'Best Foreign Film' category was created, this movie stands out as a tribute to the city of Bombay that houses Bollywood. Brilliantly shot, on a shoe string budget it brings together the 3 aspects of the city we all love and admire - its colors, its chaos and its children.

Brilliant camera-work, direction and cinematography clubbed with heart rendering performances from Nana Patekar, Shafiq Syed and Raghuvir Yadav make the movie a 'must-watch' for me. The decrepitude of the city with drugs, prostitution, lawlessness, corruption and apathy of the society towards the kids comes out brilliantly in the film.

Shafiq's near flawless portrayal of young Krishna / Chaipau showcases the determination of innocence.

The film could have done with some editing and retakes. There are a couple of poorly shot, distracting scenes in which the young actors accidentally stare into the camera, but that is a minor and pardonable flaw, in my eye.

The only problem that I see is that it labors a lot to set up the universe and does not move the story forward too much. This is more than made up for by the fantastic setting up of the universe. Another point I would like to make is that it tries to address too many minor themes, which does not do as much justice to the themes as one would have liked. The movie is Hugo, Requiem for a dream, Kaalia (1981) and much more wrapped into one.

Mira, however, does not let you lose sight of Krishna and his struggle to get back to his "mulak", which to me is a testament to her film making abilities.

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