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Salaam Bombay! More at IMDbPro »

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The Slums Of Bombay.

Author: morrison-dylan-fan from United Kingdom
22 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Whilst recently reading a discussion about Bollywood films that take a serious look at drug abuse,I was excited to find details about a film which seemed to tear all of the Bolltwood glitz & glamour apart,so that it could put a mirror up to the harsh reality behind the shining lights.

As I began to read more details about what co-story writer,producer and director Mira Nair had created,I started to hope that I was about to watch something truly special,the I would not forget for a very long time..

The plot:

After having a huge falling out with his mother and brother,an 11 year old boy called Krishna is taken to a travailing circus where he is told that until he raises enough money to sort out all the damage that he has done,he must stay away from home and become a worker at a travailing circus.Hoping to raise the cash as fast as possible, Krishna becomes a part of the circus,until one day,after having done an errand, Krishna discovers that the circus has moved on and left him behind.

Being left stranded and desperate to raise the cash that he so desperately needs, Krishna uses every penny he's got to get a train ticket to Bombay,in the hope of finding a job that will give him a good wage.Shortly after getting off the train, Krishna runs into a group of street thieves and drug dealers who live near by the cities red light area.Desperate not to be on his own in the extremely intimidating city, Krishna attempts to befriend a gang of kids who are partly being used to sell drugs on the streets for a notorious drug lord/ pimp called Baba Golub.

Despite the gang members originally having some doubts over how much they can trust him, Krishna is soon welcomed into the group,thanks to being given a new nickname (Chaipau) and also due to having developed a close bond with an "elder" of the gang called Chillum,who along with being a dealer for Golub,is also a drug abuser himself.Wanting to help his new friend to achieve his goal,Chillum helps Krishna to get a job as a low paid-ed tea deliver.Feeling that his luck is finally changing,Krishana sets his eyes on the most beautiful girl that he has ever seen.who he nicknames as "Sweet Sixteen".

Unknown to Krishna,"Sweet Sixteen" is actually a girl who has suffered the horror of being trafficked to Bombay,due to Baba Golub and a madam of his suspecting that someone will pay a high price to take the innocent's of the girl away forever.

View on the film:

Having a quick listen to the DVD commentary for this movie,I was surprised to hear Mira Nair say that she wanted a sense of hope to be always in the background of this tremendous film,so that the movie would not become completely depressing and bleak.Whilst the sparingly used,melodic score by L.Subramiam does allow a sliver of light to occasionally appear,I have to admit that I found the rest of this unforgettable movie to be one of the most depressing films that I have seen in years!.

Using her documentary past as a major influence on this particular work,Nair directs the film with an astonishing attention to detail,as she allows the camera to clearly focus on all of the real chaos taking place in the various drug dens and red light areas used as locations in the movie,whilst always making sure that the events that the films characters battle with are always in the centre of the movie.

Despite the film having to attempt in drawing the viewer into a new "world" and its cast of outcasts in less than 2 hours,the elegant screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala does a fantastic balancing act of moving at a surprising pace whilst also making sure to pause and make each character a distinct individual who's despair and flaws can be seen engulfing their entire lives.Checking for any trivia about the movie on IMDb,I was shocked to discover,that although the film features "professional" actors in the lead adult roles, (such as a terrificly menacing performance from Nana Patekar, as the ruthless and cunning Baba Golub)the entire,wonderful child cast of the film was played by street children who Nair had worked with in a number of "acting workshops".

For the girl who gets Krishna's heart Chanda Sharma gives a mesmerising performance as "Sweet Sixteen",who despite having hardly any dialogue is able to show how fragile the girl is,as her innocents gets closer to being shattered into a thousand pieces.Being featured in almost every scene of the film,lead actor Shafiq Syed, (who on the DVD interview,seems to have at last found some happiness in his life,after having sadly attempted suicide a number of times in the past) gives a performance that most "adult" actors could only dream of.

In the scenes that Syed shares with Krishna's only friend in Bombay,Chillum (played by an amazing Raghuvir Yadav.)Syed displays the perfect mix of being desperate to save his friend from his addictions,whilst also trying his best to not fall into the same nightmare that Chillum has.Nearing the conclusion to this film,Nair brilliantly uses the final moments to solely focus on Syed,With the last shot being completely still,Syed gives the film its devastating knock out blow,as Krishna begins to think about everything that he has lost.

Final view on the film:

One of the most depressing and most unforgettable films that I have ever seen.

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Salaam Bombay !

Author: Jigeeshu Joshi from India
18 March 2012

I belong to India and born in the city of Bombay(Mumbai) itself. This is for me by far the best Bollywood (Hindi) movie i have watched. I do not agree that Bombay is all about what is depicted in this movie. There is also brighter and prosperous side but, what is shown, is also not false.

It is a movie about a small village boy(Krishna) who ends up in Bombay after being left behind by his circus troupe at his village. In Bombay, he ends up in company of people who is feared by all parents. He stays in slum near a local railway station. His best friend(Chillum) is a drug addict, who ultimately dies leaving behind nothing but sorrow and despair. Krishna's love is a prostitute who is hoaxed and sold to a rich man. Krishna makes every effort to support his friend and love and earn himself some money to return home but in vain. For him, life is a serious of disappointments only broken by short spells of joy.

The movie honestly reveals that sadly sometimes in life, especially for the poor, happy ending never comes.

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Cried for half an hour

Author: dasprince0090 from India
9 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching this film made me see some unknown part of life. part of life which we people writing review here don't know. I cried for half an hour. The ending of the movie was one the saddest scene i have ever seen in any movie. This movie deserves more. Wnen i told my friends about the film they seemed amazed. All are busy watching cheap faulty movies with item songs. Peoples should watch this type of movies more. Indians really don't like this type of movies. They want sexy girl dancing.

Do watch it. Will a life changing experience. Loved it... one of the best movies out there.

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Real cinema, poetic and symbolic.

Author: jayleshd from United Kingdom
17 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is your gritty, eye opening, edge of your seat film. If you want to know what the life of the slum is about, then watch this movie.

Danny Boyle's commercialisation take on this issue took away the real hardship faced everyday by the people in the slums.

The grainy, in your face approach of this film is what makes it genuine to its purpose. This is the real deal and there isn't a big budget in sight.

I have always enjoyed Mira Nair's work, having watched Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding and this, her work is poetic in execution and flow. The objective set out to be explained is true to its soul and always believable plots are used.

It is not a quirky, forgetful film, but a film that is different and yet can hold your attention.

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Mira Nair began her career working on documentaries, and she has put that experience to excellent use in all of her narrative work, beginning with her debut feature.

Author: G K from Mars
1 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Salaam Bombay! was only the second Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar. The story is about an 11-year old country boy's adventures among thieves, prostitutes and drug addicts in a large city.

The film is a dazzling feature debut for director Mira Nair, who immediately joined the ranks of world-class film-makers with this affecting, documentary-style dissection of a teeming, often dangerous city. A brilliant study of street life, acted by a cast of mainly homeless children, it is moving and harrowing, and has genuine poignancy. Salaam Bombay! was the film showing in the theatre during the film Scenes From A Mall, starring Woody Allen and Bette Midler.

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The earlier, better Slumdog Millionaire

Author: E Canuck from Vancouver, Canada
9 January 2010

The hype around Slumdog Millionaire--which I found only okay, made me want to see Salaam Bombay, again and see if it was the superior film about a similar milieu in India I remembered from decades ago. It isn't--it's better than I remember. I must have grown a higher tolerance for cinema verite and the heartaches of poor children than I had when I first saw this.

Part of this might have been fostered by my recent enjoyment of a documentary of notable similarity to Salaam Bombay--Born into Brothels (also excellent.) What's more enjoyable than I had remembered is the rich colour and cinematography, the depth of character -- no throw-away stereotypes -- and the masterful depiction of place.

DVD extras we watched so far were poignant, especially the one about the actor who played the main character, Shafiq Sayed, who didn't have an easy life even after the success of the film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The movie that can change a person

Author: bollywoodplusplus from United States
14 January 2009

I just finished watching Salaam Bombay - for some reason, this movie always skipped my radar, and never had a chance to watch this gem! Almost 20 yrs later, today I saw it.

Wow, what a movie - there is so much power in movie-making, and Salaam Bombay is perfect example. It can change the way you think, it can change a society. It can bring 'change'! As a matter of fact, the DVD I watched was made probably 15 yrs after the movie release, so they had a special coverage on all the social activities and organizations that has emerged after the movie. Salaam Baalak,, and so many. I was quite thrilled to see some kids were adopted from the movie and they have made their life.

I myself feel like doing something some day to uplift that strata of the society. If I can make at least a couple of kids' life - and if so many of us do their part, we can bring in such a change! This movie is immense, my sincere thanks to Mira Nair to have made such a special movie. And all the other people who are associated directly or indirectly with the making of this masterpiece - it doesn't matter if this movie mattered cinematically and how many awards it got, I think you must have received blessings from millions of people who saw the movie. That is way higher than any awards you can think of.

Needless to say, it has made me a different person! Awesome.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

More interesting than entertaining

Author: rlange-3 from United States
21 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Certainly the subject matter is compelling, i.e. the street children of Bombay. Or at least ought to be, for a variety of reasons.

But I guess that if I want to be informed about them I would prefer a straight up documentary. Or at least a movie that was sufficiently interesting to hold my attention.

Personally I found my interest waning repeatedly as the story line lagged. There was little that was really compelling other than the subject material. And the acting was acceptable but hardly riveting. The plot line was predictable -- POSSIBLE SPOILER HERE -- who did not know shortly after the brick was shown that the boy would be ripped off? And who did not know early on that the addict would die in some drug related manner? Any twists or turns at all to hold our interest in this movie? I don't recall being even mildly intrigued by one.

Still, the redeeming feature was in fact the subject material. It is a rare glimpse into the life of the street children of Bombay, and probably a dozen or more other large metropolitan areas. It's just too bad it wasn't a little more than that.

I gave it a six.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Please read a touch of brightness

Author: lukemendes-1 from India
31 July 2008

Please read a touch of brightness by Mr. Partap Sharma. Ms Nair has taken a lot from this 60's stage play. Ask her about it. She's stolen the core of the play and not crediting him. Its pretty common the cannibalistic nature of non creative people who cant come up with original ideas. She's not doing that well now is she? Now there will be a film which will hit her i her head. Cudos to Mera Nair.

Please read a touch of brightness by Mr. Partap Sharma. Ms Nair has taken a lot from this 60's stage play. Ask her about it. She's stolen the core of the play and not crediting him. Its pretty common the cannibalistic nature of non creative people who cant come up with original ideas. She's not doing that well now is she? Now there will be a film which will hit her i her head. Cudos to Mera Nair.

Please read a touch of brightness by Mr. Partap Sharma. Ms Nair has taken a lot from this 60's stage play. Ask her about it. She's stolen the core of the play and not crediting him. Its pretty common the cannibalistic nature of non creative people who cant come up with original ideas. She's not doing that well now is she? Now there will be a film which will hit her i her head. Cudos to Mera Nair.

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3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The "feel bad" movie of the year

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
9 March 2006

This is a very well-made film--I certainly can't quibble about the direction or acting. In fact, I guess there really isn't anything WRONG with it. It's a very realistic look at life in the slums of Bombay--complete with child abuse, lots and lots of drug abuse, prostitution and absolute destitution--far more than western audiences could imagine. So from this standpoint, it's a great film. However, the film didn't engage me like some other similar films (such as CITY OF GOD--a film about the Brazilian slums and drug lords). Yes, it was very sad and awful and horrific, but that was about it. It was almost like watching a documentary on misery. I did appreciate it how through most of the film, the child who is the star maintains some of his humanity, but by the end this was vanishing and so was my attention. It's like there was just SOMETHING missing from the film,...what, I am a little at a loss to say. Maybe it's because the movie offers no hope, suggestions for change or future.

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