Salaam Bombay! - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Salaam Bombay! Reviews

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August 28, 2011
Really amazing movie. I can't believe that it didnt win the Oscar while the sugar-coated Bollywood-ish Slumdog Millionaire did!
May 13, 2011
tragic stark look at a life of abandoned homeless children in Bombay. very well made and acted movie but depressing end to end.
January 9, 2011
A not-surprising classic in Indian art-house history. Nair does an amazing job of letting the lead characters, who happen to be children, tell their own story with such depth and honesty. And she does it without putting on any pretensions of sympathy, guilt or romanticization.
September 29, 2010
I have not seen Slumdog Millionaire, I never felt a desire to. Bought tickets, ended up not going to it. Rented the DVD, returned without seeing it. SM always seemed lacking on realism to me and too glamorous for a slum movie. I had watched Salaam Bombay! 20 years back seeing it as a teen as just a good movie. Saw it again over the weekend. A brilliant watch that stands the test of time after over 2 decades. Shafiq Syed (now an auto driver in Bangalore) is amazing as Chai-Pav/Krishna, pity we never saw him again. And Raghuvir Yadav as Chillum is brilliant. Worth a repeat watch after all these years. Shakti (Amitabh), Drohkaal and now Salaam Bombay! are my 3 most favorite Bollywood flicks.
September 25, 2010
Best to have come from Mira Nair. Film explores the dark world of the homeless children on the streets of Bombay.Great cast..neat direction and an amazing score from L Subramaniam. This should go straight to your to-watch list...
September 24, 2010
A bold attempt by 1988 itself, depicted the Children in Bombay street well. Avoided melodrama at many places, although expected ending, few poetic moments made it a nice one!
½ July 8, 2010
I always wanted to watch this movie, but never got a chance ...
What a spectacular depiction of the real street life of the city ...
Reminds me of the stories of Maximum City ...
½ June 30, 2010
Salaam bombay reloaded!

Sad for the situation of street-childrens in mumbai. Was lack of publicity/media coverage the only reason this movie couldn't make it to the oscars?
½ June 19, 2010
Hard hitting neo-realist tale of life on the streets of Bombay. A blueprint for Slumdog Millionaire? Whatever, this is an affecting look at life on the underbelly of the world's largest democracy
May 31, 2010
All he wanted was to earn 500 n go back to his home. Its a great cinema. it raised so many issues back in 1988. and yet in 2010 the film is still relevant. i guess few things just don't change. it's got child labor, forced prostitution, drug addiction, parenting and so many things.
and a a movie it has bagged all the great elements robbery, prison break, love, deceit, revenge all together.
May 31, 2010
20+ years ago, Mira Nair dedicated a movie for the homeless children in the streets of Bombay which was outright realistic n less-cheesy to the much hyped Slumdog Millionaire. I would say this was a toughest movie to direct. Dark n gritty set, realistic characterization and the endless emotional quotient. A powerful debut from Mira Nair. Great Watch
April 28, 2010
The movie was very good, hampered by a very dated score and occasional sub-par acting (bad drunk acting... one of my big pet peeves). The worst thing I could say is that it's somewhat predictable. But that doesn't get in the way of letting it depress the hell out of you.
½ April 6, 2010
I appreciated some of the realism, but didn't find myself too drawn in emotionally to any of the events taking place on screen. The rough-around-the-edges non-actor performances kind of hold the film back at times. It doesn't stick out too much aesthetically (perhaps a limitation of its neo-realist genre), but still, even De Sica and Fellini's older films have daring cinematic choices. This does not. Maybe I'm just tired of the typical "difficulty of day-to-day life" foreign fare.
March 23, 2010
I wrote this a few years ago at a film forum:
I saw Salam Bombay! for the first time last night, had me crying. I get sad just thinking about it so I'll just say that the film is beautiful and highly recommended.

I haven't see Monsoon Wedding yet, but am really impressed with Mira Nair's work on Salam Bombay! so I'll hopefully be able to check it out within the next few days.
__________________
½ March 16, 2010
The reality is not always pretty. Mira nair has shown the slum of bombay in its raw manner this movie can be hard to watch at times as the content is uncomfortable mainly because it involves the life of children who r living in the streets.The way the film begins in a dessert and Sissel provides an exotic and dreamy look to the movie. Acting on the part of the children is impeccable and the story is touching overall full marks to mira nair
February 15, 2010
The original Bombay underdog hit!
Shits all over Slumdog Millionaire.
February 13, 2010
Slumdog Millionaire was one of my favorite films, until I saw Salaam Bombay!. Life is not a fairy tale as it seems to be in the Oscar winner for Best Picture. Hollywood embraced it's uplifting, unique story where happiness is not only found in love but as the film was made by a Westerner the story is depicted through the lens of American values, including capitalism. So it doesn't hurt that the "slumdog" won a ton of money either. This seems to be the icing on the cake in American cinema, if one can avoid the world of poverty they are considered to have a happy ending. Slumdog Millionaire's title of course is an oxymoron, which is not the only contradiction in the film's world of overwhelming paradox. The film was criticized by Indian audiences for depicting a too-true image of the realities of what it is like to be categorized as "street children" and Indian poverty. However, the real truth is that there is no reality in the story at all. Of course there is value in showing how street children survive, but the happiness in the ending is defined by Western objectives. Hollywood reciprocates the notion over and over again that in order to achieve happiness, love and money are all you need. The fact that the film won an Academy Award for Best Picture proves that when you mix a little bit of reality with the falseness of idealism, people begin to deceive themselves into thinking what they just saw was good because it was "real." If anyone walked out of Slumdog Millionaire (myself included) thinking that they just saw "what it's really like" or "how it is for 'them'," was deceived by the masterful paradox's of Slumdog Millionaire's Hollywood guise. Both films used real street kids as the actors, but something is to be said about the Westerner "using" the child under the lens of the camera as a microscope for his project in Slumdog Millionaire where after the project is completed, similar to neocolonial projects, the subject is abandoned. Unlike in Salaam Bombay where the children were adopted by crew and helped set up centers around India for similar street kids after the project was complete. Why is it that the poor are studied and subjected by the rich, why do the poor never have the opportunity to study the rich? Salaam Bombay had children that were not under study or under a microscope, but they were in it together, along with the director who was also poor, in fact they all shared an empty flat and the director allowed them to sleep in it during filming. If you were under the impression that when you saw Slumdog Millionaire you were seeing a foreign film (which I know people who have) you are gravely mistaken. If you want to see that foreign film with everything that you thought Slumdog Millionaire was supposed to bring you, or that you thought DID bring you, see Salaam Bombay!.

Salaam Bombay! is a Bollywood film which attempted the same quest to depict "what's it's really like." It was the first film ever in Bollywood to have a kiss on screen, never before due to cultural taboos. As an example of the director's attempt to depict reality, this kiss was nothing magical, or romanticized, it was a kiss of a prostitute submitting to her husband, who happens to be her pimp as well. From director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), this film "burst onto the Indian cinema scene with the force of a tornado" (Time Out London). Winner of the Caméra d'Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® in 1989, this riveting look at life on the hardened streets of Bombay went on to accumulate accolades and awards across the globe. Ebert said of the film that the director "has been able to make a film that has the everyday, unforced reality of documentary, and yet the emotional power of great drama." The film just feels so genuine that Ebert is correct that you genuinely feel as if you are watching a documentary.

Forced to leave his family at a very young age, Krishna lives on the streets with pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts and other homeless children. He earns very little money -- but it's more than most -- delivering tea so he can return home to his family. "But his honest plan is foiled when his hard-earned money is stolen by his closest friend, forcing Krishna to follow in the footsteps of so many street children of Bombay...by turning to a life of crime" (Amazon).

It has been argued that street children have a better experience of growing up than those with parents because of the heavy detrimental influence that each parent makes, even unintentionally. This, of course is an outlandish claim as seen in the film Salaam Bombay. To be a child is not to be ignored and forced to be self reliant. Self reliance must be developed naturally in stages over time, not forced upon an incapable human being with no maturity and less intellect than a fully developed adult. If not developing dependency on parents, the parental role is fulfilled by other mediums such as a pimp, drugs, and even a prostitute in the case of the film. In Edmonton these roles are similar but places like Youth Emergency Shelter and other NGO's across the globe try and monitor children in ways the parents didn't. The role of a parent is crucial and vital in a child's development in becoming self reliant.

Not to discredit the fact that being on their own, these children are learning valuable lessons, street intelligence or "street sense" and depending on how you look at it they develop courage and a lack of fear. For example, the children are hired as caterers at a wedding and one ends up slapping a rich kid, who then runs to his mother. The kids later demand more cash and show no shyness to authority throughout the film because of their freedom from the oppression of authority figures such as teachers and parents. But this is not Summerhill school, the "freedom" they are given holds a great difference, the rich kid can run to his mother when he is afraid, when the street kid is in trouble or experiences fear he has only his pimp, pusher or master to run to for help. All in all, even if we say that these children have no parents, it is entirely false. Everyone has a parent, the parent is just fulfilled by a different role or person who abuses the responsibility to a varying extremity or degree. It is the degree of abuse that determines a "good" parent over a "bad" one. After all, a biological parent could even be worse than the street as a parent.

In the case of Manju, she had parents and still felt that the role was unfulfilled, when her parents visited her in the child center it became apparent that her mother needed Manju more than she needed her mother as the role of father and mother had been abandoned long before she became lost in the literal sense. Manju had found a parent role in the orphan center and perhaps in her friends as well. In the film it seems that trustworthy friends are the best possible parent that a street kid can hope for. Of course I do not attempt to criticize mother's parenting skills attempt to even relate to her situation. It is difficult to critique the parents in the film, that are not unlike characters in real life when we don't understand the societal, historical and cultural circumstances that caused their situation to begin with. Nor am I fully capable of judging their situation when I can only help but see it through a Western lens, not from a perspective which is more capable of resolving the issues of why street children exist historically in the first place. Too often do we fall into the situation or conversation of using terms such as "us" and "them." One thing is for certain however, Manju had become a child of the state or the public street long before her mother realized it.

Throughout the entire film, Krishna is searching to "go home" in the literal sense, but really he is searching for it figuratively as well, anything he can call "home." When he finally has an opportunity to have a structured life in the orphan center, he escapes knowing that this home is unfamiliar. The role of home and parent has been replaced for so long that he only recognizes both as the street itself. His new home and family is represented in the final shot of the film, where he is presented alone on a dreary street without a person in sight. The director has achieved here that reality of this story is the same for almost all street children in the world, that no person will become Krishna's home or his parent, Krishna has only one place to go, the only place he is familiar with to call his home is the street.

CONSENSUS
Rotten Tomatoes give this move a 92% rating

Zoom In Analysis will DISAGREE with this rating and go for a respectable 8.5/10. Though it's a phenomenal film I shouln't claim to be ignorant to the fact that I, myself am a Westerner and I value the entertainment in Western films more, not understanding many cultural references and themes presented in this film (I should make it clear that I still love Slumdog Millionare, but it will remain a PERFECT example of a Western filmmaker trying to depict a non-Western life and culture, or neo-colonialism at work). This film was "an honest and haunting portrait " of reality in India, made by someone who can relate and is more capable of understanding the issues and truthful conclusion that most street kids are forced to face. Trust me, after seeing this film it will stay with you, the ending is depressing and hard to digest.
½ January 19, 2010
Salaam Bombay! is the story of homeless children living in the streets of Bombay, following one little boy's story in particular. Krishna (also referred to in the movie as Chaipau) starts the film off working in the circus, where his mother has sent him to pay off a debt of 500 rupees he incurred through criminal misbehavior. When the circus leaves without him, he buys a ticket to the nearest big city, and begins to save up the money to be able to return home. But it's very hard to save money while living on the street, when your friends are junkies and thieves. Chaipau also befriends a young girl who's been sold to the local brothel, and is having difficulty adjusting to her new life in forced prostitution. Baba the pimp (he reminds me a little of Harvey Keitel's pimp from Taxi Driver), who lets his own wife turn tricks, is also a drug dealer, and is responsible for getting Chaipau's friend hooked. The movie has an air of familiarity to it, drugs, prostitution, homelessness have all been covered before (in the aforementioned Taxi Driver, for example), and the central point of view is highly reminiscent of the earlier film, 400 Blows. It also lacks the beauty of film-making that went into the latter Slumdog Millionaire (although there were a few scenes of visual and visceral cleverness). However, if one were looking to watch a film about the impoverished life on the streets of India, this would be the one to watch. It will stay with you for awhile.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2010
Salaam Bombay! is the story of homeless children living in the streets of Bombay, following one little boy's story in particular. Krishna (also referred to in the movie as Chaipau) starts the film off working in the circus, where his mother has sent him to pay off a debt of 500 rupees he incurred through criminal misbehavior. When the circus leaves without him, he buys a ticket to the nearest big city, and begins to save up the money to be able to return home. But it's very hard to save money while living on the street, when your friends are junkies and thieves. Chaipau also befriends a young girl who's been sold to the local brothel, and is having difficulty adjusting to her new life in forced prostitution. Baba the pimp (he reminds me a little of Harvey Keitel's pimp from Taxi Driver), who lets his own wife turn tricks, is also a drug dealer, and is responsible for getting Chaipau's friend hooked. The movie has an air of familiarity to it, drugs, prostitution, homelessness have all been covered before (in the aforementioned Taxi Driver, for example), and the central point of view is highly reminiscent of the earlier film, 400 Blows. It also lacks the beauty of film-making that went into the latter Slumdog Millionaire (although there were a few scenes of visual and visceral cleverness). However, if one were looking to watch a film about the impoverished life on the streets of India, this would be the one to watch. It will stay with you for awhile.
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