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13 year old Riyaz lives a poor lifestyle in Bombay, India, with his grandmother, Fayyuzi, and her sister, Mehmooda alias Mammo. Quite outspoken and embittered over his dad abandoning him, Riyaz does not have many friends, save for Rohan. When Mammo plans a surprise birthday party for him, Riyaz is offended as he believes his friends will make fun of him as his lifestyle is not as good as their's. Fayyuzi and Riyaz have an argument with Mammo, and she leaves for the Mosque at Haji Ali, but returns when both apologize to her. Although Mammo was born in Panipat during the British Raj, she was one of thousands of Muslims who left for Pakistan. She was married over there, could not conceive, was branded a "barren woman", and asked to leave. Having nowhere else to go, she came to live with her widowed sister in Bombay on a temporary Visa. Every month she would walk to the nearest Police Station and get an extension. She finally paid a Rs.4800/ as a bribe in order to get a permanent visa ... Written by
All Shyam Bnegal needs to depict the pain of partition is 1 room and 3 characters. This movie is a must watch. The ending is a bit flimsy (I think it would have been the best to end the movie when Riyaz sees the train carrying Mammo going away - but maybe that would have sent a wrong message). The performance of Farida Jalal, small Riyaz and the Nani is superb in every respect. I particularly liked how beautifully the director depicts the emotions of a teenage boy growing up. The birthday party scene felt very very real. The dark underbelly of Bombay is beautifully portrayed. Only the acting of Riyaz's friend was not perfect but still OK. This movie makes you ponder. Thank you Shyam Benegal!
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