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Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Cast: Shafig Syed, Shafig Syed, Sarfuddin Qurrassi, more...
Director: Mira Nair, Mira Nair
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: MGM
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Politics and Social Issues, India, British Drama, UK
Running Time: 114 min.
Languages: Hindi
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

Shot on-location on the streets of Bombay, Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay is the gritty tale of Krishna (Shafiq Syed, a runaway discovered by Nair), a boy kicked out of his home, and abandoned by the traveling circus he had joined. In desperation, he uses the little money he has to buy a one-way ticket to the nearest city, which turns out to be Bombay. "Come back a movie star," the ticket agent tells him mockingly. In Bombay, Krishna joins a small community of street kids, and gets a job delivering tea. Soon, everyone in the downtrodden neighborhood knows him as "Chaipau" (tea boy). Krishna wants to save five hundred rupees, enough money to get back into his mother's good graces and return home. Chillum (Raghubir Yadav), a streetwise young man who deals drugs for the local kingpin, Baba (Nana Patekar), takes Krishna under his wing. The sly but cruel Baba has a mistress, Rekha (Aneeta Kanwar), who works as a prostitute. She has a young daughter, Manju (Hansa Vithal), who has a crush on Krishna, but Krishna only has eyes for the girl they call "Sweet Sixteen," a virginal teenager who is being forced into prostitution. Eventually, Baba fires the surly Chillum, and Krishna finds himself struggling to keep Chillum alive by supporting his drug habit. Many of the roles in the film are played by non-actors, including the street kids, and an actual madame who allowed Nair to film scenes in her brothel. The Harvard-educated Nair began her filmmaking career working on documentaries. Salaam Bombay, her narrative feature debut, won worldwide critical acclaim, and was awarded the Camera D'Or at Cannes. She and the film's screenwriter, Sooni Taraporevala, also collaborated on Mississippi Masala, starring Denzel Washington. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Sublime, sad, lovely by bluelobster August 8, 2003 - 8:03 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Salaam Bombay! is the rare film that is overwhelming. Filmed entirely on the streets of Bombay, it tracks the lives of mostly homeless children in a society that wishes to exploit them. The film pulls you into their world seductively, expressing all the wonder and horror in this very colorful and chaotic city.
The film, though fiction, is the product of an acting workshop with Bombay street kids. As such, it sings with truth, terrible and yet hopeful as that is.
The impact of this film was large enough, when it was released, for India to reconsider and begin to improve the social conditions of these very desperate children.

First Rate by skybrian April 16, 2003 - 12:35 AM PDT
7 out of 7 members found this review helpful
There is no sugar coating here and you might think such a movie would be absolutely depressing, but it's not like that. I think it's because things keep happening, and while life goes on there is still hope. Also, the movie is extremely well put together with never a false note, and the story behind the movie is quite inspiring. The DVD includes some short interviews with some of the people who were in the movie showing where they ended up.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 8.04)
76 Votes
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