India is more about drama and dharma than anything else. These two facets sell like hot cakes and how! They are the quickest way to mint money or ignite riots- ample of drama and ample of provocative speeches against dharma and there you have it a picture perfect riot stricken streets. We may be sarcastic about this but we cannot forget the streets of Mumbai which were set ablaze by the religious fanatics. One film that has still kept those images raw in our mind is Mani Ratnam’s Bombay.
Bombay is one film that depicts the dreadful events subtlety. A love story between a Hindu and a Muslim, often an impossible feat, is portrayed in this film. Shekhar marries Shaila Banu for love. Since their marriage is met with disapproval from the family and villagers, the two elope to Mumbai. Here the two start a new life. When they are blessed with twins, the unresolved issues with their families get sorted. The Brahmin family accepts a Muslim daughter-in-law and the Muslim family accepts a Hindu Brahmin as their son-in-law. But far, far away after a mosque is pulled down, the raging wars between the two religious groups continue. The politicians only fan the fire and fumes shoot up to engulf almost the entire country. However, the hardest hit is Bombay.
The film meticulously portrays the incident giving a balanced and unbiased view. It ably puts forth a message that despite love being around, barbaric instincts still breed in the womb of our society. Largely it is a historical-drama but it is also a lovely love story. It is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. The separation of the family is agonizing as is the separation of the little ones. The film is utterly powerful and at the same time an upfront documentation of the real incident. It has a socially conscious theme and has to be applauded for it caresses a sensitive issue boldly. It puts forth a valid argument for peace through a love story. It speaks of tolerance, humanity giving us a true picture of the catastrophe.
Speaking of the technicalities, the film has realistic war sequences, slick direction, excellent script and brilliant songs. Rahman’s brilliance drips from every beat that pour out of the frame. It touches your heart and leaves you teary-eyed, especially the song Tu He Re. In fact, Rahman’s music makes the whole moving watching experience no less than a musical, a hauntingly beautiful one! Coming from Ratnam’s kitty and second one in Ratnam’s trilogy depicting human relationships against a background of Indian politics, this one has ample of symbolism peppered throughout. One that’s moving and enlightening is when after the separation Shekhar’s son is saved by a eunuch, he asks the eunuch a reason for the conflicts and to which the eunuch replies that, “Religion is a way to god…” One more that’s beautiful and speaks volumes about humanity and religion is when a Brahmin saves Koran before fleeing the house set ablaze.
Overall, the film may have darker tones but it is balanced by fluffiness of romance that steams between Manisha Koirala and Arvind Swamy. It has galore of emotions, drama, reality, compelling performances. It is unwatchable because it is traumatizing but at the same time it is a must watch.