Mani Ratnam’s Bombay – I shudder to think what would have happened if the movie had released now. Bans and protest galore. Doubts with regard to it’s release. Drama, drama and more drama and the movie would have premiered on Youtube.
Bombay is a very relevant film even today . Mani Ratnam gives subtle hints on how the movie is going to unfold from the very beginning. The casting is a work of pure genius Kitty – A Hindu dons the role Basheer while Nasser a Muslim dons the role of Narayanan Pillai. It’s a clever change of their real life identities. The whole ideology of the film is conveyed through these two characters.
On the surface it does look like one of the many rebellious love stories. But Mani Ratnam uses love as a mere outline to convey the inconvenient truth. Human race cannot survive without tolerance to each other’s faith and beliefs. Is your belief so fragile that you kill each other when your ideals and morals are questioned ?
Very few films retain their impact even after decades. Bombay is one such gem. A.R Rahman’s soulful melodies elevate the film to another level. Rajiv Menon’s cinematography and the endearing chemistry between Aravind Swamy and Manisha Koirala not to forget the two wonderful kids.
Another lasting impression from the film was the pace of the film. It is ideally a story of two halves. The tone of film changes gradually as the story moves forward. What starts of as a regular love story turns into a family’s struggle for survival. The riot pulls them in. The hatred spreads like an epidemic. Will there peace? Will the family ever survive? These are questions which haunt the viewers too.
One of the best scenes on religious harmony comes from Mani Ratnam’s masterpiece. Narayanan Pillai returns from the temple with his grandson. Seeing the Muslims around the grandson wipes the vibuthi on Narayan’s forehead. There’s fear in both the pair of eyes. The Muslims question his identity as Basheer Bhai runs along and convinces the mob that he is one of their own. The conversation that follows is just priceless
Narayanan : Would they have killed me ? How could they even think of killing an old man and a kid?
Basheer : Nothing happened right. Don’t worry just come with me.
Narayanan : What did u tell them ?
Basheer : I told them your one of my own – MY BROTHER.
Their eyes meet as A.R Rahman’s background just serves as fitting end to this wonderful scene.
The movie stresses the need for brotherhood so beautifully. We all belong to one human race. I end with a line quoted by a dear friend “As long as human race exists Bombay will be a relevant film across generations.”