Salaam Bombay!

  • 1988
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

The breakthrough film for onetime documentarist Mira Nair (INDIA CABARET), who later entered the English-language mainstream with MISSISSIPPI MASALA. Nair leavens her story of a desperately impoverished 11-year-old (Shafiq Syed) with enough sentimentality to insure broad audience appeal. Abandoned by his family, unable to read or write, unsure even of the...read more

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The breakthrough film for onetime documentarist Mira Nair (INDIA CABARET), who later entered the English-language mainstream with MISSISSIPPI MASALA. Nair leavens her story of a desperately impoverished 11-year-old (Shafiq Syed) with enough sentimentality to insure broad audience appeal.

Abandoned by his family, unable to read or write, unsure even of the name of his native village, the boy arrives in the Bombay slums where he hopes to raise enough money to return to his family. He makes a few rupees a day delivering tea, and in the process comes into contact with a variety of

seedy characters: a pimp (Nana Patekar), his prostitute wife (Aneeta Kanwar), a drug-addicted pusher (Raghubir Yadav) who works for the pimp, the pimp's daughter (Hansa Vithal), and a naive peasant girl called "Sweet Sixteen" (Chanda Sharma), a prostitute-to-be whose virginity is being auctioned

off to the highest bidder. As time wears on, however, the youngster's surrogate family collapses around him.

Shot in the slums of Bombay with child actors recruited by Nair from the street, SALAAM BOMBAY! is moving and well-crafted, but far from original. Like Satyajit Ray's early work, it is heavily indebted to the Italian neo-realist tradition and implicitly contemptuous of mainstream Indian cinema.

Nair uses her characters' devotion to Bombay musicals to make a rather tired point about the contrast between their squalid lives and the fantasies purveyed by commercial cinema. In one place, this strategy notably backfires: when the protagonist and his friends visit the cinema, the clip we see

them viewing--a comic dance number from MR. INDIA performed by Indian megastar Sridevi--is far more arresting than anything in SALAAM BOMBAY! Nair's film received the prestigious Camera d'Or for best first feature at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

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  • Released: 1988
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The breakthrough film for onetime documentarist Mira Nair (INDIA CABARET), who later entered the English-language mainstream with MISSISSIPPI MASALA. Nair leavens her story of a desperately impoverished 11-year-old (Shafiq Syed) with enough sentimentality… (more)

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