Salaam Bombay! By Mira Nair

Salaam Bombay! By Mira Nair

Salaam Bombay!

by Mira Nair

Review by Ansulika Paul


Two ladies out to be researching the life and the living of street children in Bombay, Mira Nair and Sooni Taraporevala. If women filmmakers are meant to add feminism and feministic issues on screen along with everything else, women filmmakers are also to get on the gist of children’s issues; untold and unheard. The film thoughtfully tackles issues of child upbringing, mental makeup, dilemmas, insecurities and fears of the street children.

The eminent character of a child is of Krishna (Chaipau). The emotion Chaipau presents and understands with utmost efficiency throughout, reel by reel is helplessness. He is the one who is toiled by the helplessness of others and of himself. Chaipau is always wanting to break free and finding his way out be it through love or escapism. He takes the epitome of a Savior, finding others helpless as in Sola saal or Rekha or Manju or Chillum. The film was released in 1988 but the word it spreads across the globe, among the masses is live and happening.

It is an  impartial  portrayal of  the lives of children and adults in the red light area. The psychological traumas the children are bound to go through includes being abandoned, being neglected, being abused, being a victim and being unloved, which eventually makes the film grippingly thoughtful.

The film itself is a thought provoking question screened for almost 113 minutes. The film starts as a documentary, with realistic picturesque and  insignificant, random sound tracks in the background carrying with it an authenticity of screenplay by the characters. It is after 6 minutes and 15 seconds of the reel that the film takes its shape as a mainstream, Bollywood movie in action with entry of  Raghubir Yadav as Chillum on screen.

The abduction of  Sola saal and getting her ready for the environment and the work is a depiction of the reality of the society and a tremendous reflection on it. Manju’s  helplessness is revealed as she scratches the glass door wanting her mother. The psychology that street children are shown growing with in the film is scintillating to accept or ignore. There is an extreme depiction of helplessness with every character unfolding.

The film is a melodrama of loving someone and wanting to be loved by that someone. None of the love comes out mutual but is like a linear food-chain (eating and being eaten). Manju loves Chaipau;  Chaipau loves Sola  saal;  Sola saal loves Baba;  Baba loves Rekha. There would not have been a whirlwind of pathos  in the drama if the love was anywhere mutual than linear and all consuming.

Chaipau is the hero (a young boy in his early teens) who cares for all but not much of his own self. He is empathetic to the longing of others.  Chaipau is the only character who is always looking for hope in oneself and he is selflessly persuading  the same in the people he cares; notably the three women in the story; Sola saal, Manju (little girl) and Rekha. Sola saal is Chaipau’s  love; Rekha is the mother figure he is waiting to receive soon and Manju is the one whom he adheres to as a caretaker. He understands the extremity of the situation and tries to help each woman every now and then. Chaipau is a gentleman on screen who is ingrained into this space like everyone else yet is aware and desirous of a  hopeful world out there. He hurdles to get out, assured to take with him someone he loves or cares for. This attitude of the character Chaipau pictured on screen clearly conveys the intricacies he understands of the plot.

Work cited:

Nair, Mira (Director). Salaam Bombay! (Film).1988. Mira Nair (Producer). Youtube.

Wikipedia contributors. “Salaam Bombay!.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Nov. 2021. Web. 12 Dec. 2021

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Ansulika Paul

Ansulika Paul

Ansulika Paul is a poet, author, researcher and filmmaker. She is a filmmaker by heart and a film critic by words.

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