6.5/10
87
4 user 1 critic

The Courtesans of Bombay (1983)

Roughly structured over 24 hours, we visit Pavan Pool, a compound in Bombay where poor women sing, dance, and engage in prostitution. By day, they practice singing and dancing, both ... See full summary »

Director:

Ismail Merchant

Writers:

Ismail Merchant (a film made by), James Ivory (a film made by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Saeed Jaffrey
Zohra Sehgal ... (as Zohra Segal)
Kareem Samar Kareem Samar
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Storyline

Roughly structured over 24 hours, we visit Pavan Pool, a compound in Bombay where poor women sing, dance, and engage in prostitution. By day, they practice singing and dancing, both traditional and pop. Brothers and uncles with musical talent accompany them; the other men are idle, gambling and laying about, living off the women's earnings. At night, men come to the compound, walking past room after room of performing women, sitting down to listen to those who interest them. What they pay is up to them. After hours, prostitution begins. Our guides are the compound's rent collector, an older woman who grew up there, and a bit-part actor who spends his earnings there. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

dance | india | independent film | See All (3) »

Genres:

Documentary | Music

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Details

Official Sites:

Merchant Ivory Productions

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Kurtisaner i Bombay See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of eight productions that Indian actor Saeed Jaffrey made with Merchant Ivory Productions. The films include The Guru (1969), The Delhi Way (1964), Heat and Dust (1983), The Deceivers (1988), The Sword and the Flute (1959), The Courtesans of Bombay (1983), The Creation of Woman (1961), and Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1978). See more »

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User Reviews

 
Intriguing
24 July 2005 | by sam_pereraSee all my reviews

An interesting tale of poverty and the age old desire of man to engage in the greatest sport of exploitation of the poor told in a narration style with actors and a real life cast of Bombay courtesans. It captures the utter desperation of these poor souls as they live in a compound better suited to demolition than a living space. The camera captures the myriad of lives and their existence in a world cynical of their existence.

The camera wonders the dark and depraved halls searching for the characters that tells the weary story. It is weaved into a collage of memories and visualizations, beautifully interrupted by the narrators discussing the everyday lives and the reason for visiting these establishments. Mystical eastern dancing and gyrations entice the men into squalid rooms where they spend their hard working money on an evening of pleasure, music, and a night of prostitution.

This film really brings the darker side of Bombay into the mainstream in a documentary style. Its heartbreaking to see a poor beautiful girl who dances magnificently under the tutelage of a dance guru, only to know the fate that one day awaits her in a seedy apartment. A must see!


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