Bombay (1995), directed by Mani Ratnam, is originally in Tamil. It’s a masterful piece that won many awards across categories. The songs are some of the best in Indian cinema and the music was produced by A. R. Rahman. The movie also released in Hindi, Telugu, and Malayam with Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala doing justice to their characters Sekhar and Shaila.
Bombay(1995) Movie Plot
Sekhar returns home after a long time and on his journey he encounters a group of Muslim girls, all covered from head to toe. In a gust of wind, he catches sight of one girl’s face for three seconds and instantly falls in love with her. Sekhar starts stalking her until he learns her identity.
I know the movie isn’t just about romance, but I can’t accept movies that show an intense love affair happening in three seconds and normalize stalking a schoolgirl.
Sekhar came from an orthodox Hindu family. His father, Narayana Pillai, was a respected person in the village. Sekhar moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) to work as a journalist. On the other hand, Shaila was a schoolgirl and daughter of Bashir, a poor villager who wanted his daughter to be educated even though he himself may have been illiterate. It wasn’t hard to find Shaila in such a small village… At a wedding ceremony Sekhar watched her sing (the lyrics suggesting that she liked the stranger she had met only days before!).
The stalking continues.
Sekhar one day confessed his love to Shaila. The songs in the movie were great; I was astonished by how much of a goof Sekhar was. He threatened her, “Come meet me or I’ll kill myself.” She ran to him and hugged him but said nothing. Later, when Sekhar asked for her hand in marriage, her father kicked him out of the house.
Bashir couldn’t agree to the marriage because of their different religions. Sekhar’s father also rebuked him for hanging out with a Muslim girl, so Sekhar left for Mumbai, vowing never to return. He and Shaila kept in touch by writing letters. Narayana and Bashir had an intense argument that almost turned violent; understanding the gravity of the situation, they warned each other to keep the young lovers in check. Finally, one day Shaila fled from home to join Sekhar in Mumbai. They got married at court and began living together. Inter-religion marriages are still not widely accepted in India; however, thankfully there is no law against it.
Shaila gave birth to two beautiful twins, Kamal and Kabir. She named them after their grandparents, Bashir and Narayanan respectively. The little boy practiced both religions. When Hindu extremists demolished the Babri Masjid, communal riots broke out in Mumbai (which truly happened). Sekhar and Shaila were caught up in this crisis. Their parents rushed to see if they were okay. Narayan and Bashir no longer hated each other; they surrendered to their children’s love. Tragically, Narayan and Bashir both died when some people set fire to Sekhar and Shaila’s place. They managed to escape with the crowd but lost their kids in the process. The movie ends with Sekhar and Shaila reuniting with their kids after a long search.
The movie shows how peace-loving people of both religions came together to stop the violence. It’s the innocent commoners who suffer in every dispute. I loved the movie and its message of communal harmony, although there are too many songs. Over all I’d rate Bombay(1995) 9 out of 10.
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Photo by : Parth