Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! is only one of three Indian movies to be nominated for an Academy Award.
At the time of its release, the social drama received an immense amount of praise around the world, especially at Cannes.
However, it did also stir up some controversy among Bollywood elites for its depiction of poverty in India.
Despite its mixed reception, I not only enjoyed watching Nair’s film but was also in awe of the story she told through the eyes of a poor kid.
We’re introduced to a young boy named Krishna, who isn’t allowed to come home until he earns enough money to pay for his brother’s bike.
After being duped by a circus, our protagonist sees his way into the big city. This was at a time where Bombay cemented itself as the industrial hub of India.
With no money, Krishna befriends street kids included a pusher addicted to heroin named Chillum (Raghubir Yadav), who acts as his mentor/older brother.
Renowned Bollywood actor Nana Patekar plays Chillum’s boss, a drug dealer with a short fuse, who lives in the red-light area of Falkland Road with his wife and daughter.
Once coming into the Bombay, the conflict Krishna faces is getting out of his situation and going home to his mother.
No matter how hard he tries to earn money, the scenarios that unfold throughout the film just keep putting him back to square one.
Salaam Bombay! covers a variety of topics including child labour, addiction, abuse, classism, trafficking and prostitution. You can see why there were a few who criticised this film.
All these taboo topics interlink with the state of poverty in India at the time. I believe there’s nothing wrong with showing the reality some have to face (even to this date). It shows that there is a problem and that it needs to be addressed.
Nair dedicated the movie to street children living in these harsh conditions and even established an NGO a year later called the Salaam Baalak Trust.
Child actor Shafiq Syed does an incredible job playing Krishna as viewers are fully immersed into the tragic situations he’s put in.
Salaam Bombay! is a must-watch movie. It made me appreciate the amount of privileges I have growing up in London.
Source of Image – Time Out