Salaam Bombay

Many of you have seen this, because it is over 15 years old now, but if, like me, you have missed the boat, there is no time like the present. Current DVDs have interviews with the adults who were children at the time it was shot and the story of the workshops and the process they went through to be cast in the movie is fascinating. None of them went on to become Bollywood stars, although the interview with the lovely woman who played the main prostitute would lead you to believe she has continued on as an actress.

The clip of one boy who was adopted by the American camerawoman is very, very interesting. The children thought she was extremely old because she was blonde and the only light-colored hair they had ever seen before was grey. He is now a well-educated American, a college graduate who would like to somehow use his good fortune to help the children in India. (His family too, was cared for by the camerawoman.)

There are many interviews with people who are the directors of schools/ shelters for street children in three major Indian cities; they are named after and funded by the revenue from this film and the subsequent interest and charity it has generated over the years. This was the first film directed by Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding" and "Vanity Fair" [2004]) and it not only launched her highly respected career but others on the project also went on to professions in screen writing, etc.

This is a story of the street life in Bombay (now Mumbai), complete with street children, drug dealers, prostitutes and scam artists, all surviving at the most basic level. If it sounds like "Oliver Twist," it should, because that's exactly what it is! (minus the storybook ending due to coincidences that Dickens loved) The friendships, (misplaced) loyalties, desperation, street smarts, betrayals and broken hearts are the stuff of wonderful cinema!

This film won many awards the year it came out and the little boy who starred in it was also honored. The interview with him as an adult is particularly telling. The scene that earned him his awards is the final, transformative one, done in one long, single take in which a full array of emotions works its way slowly across his face. The final look fixed on his face will stay with you for a long while.

This one is definitely worth a NetFlix viewing.

(And I highly recommend her other two mentioned in this note, as well...)