India (2): The Lives of Street Kids in Mumbai Salaam Bombay Migrant populations flock to the outskirts of cities to find work. (source)
Outline • Background (1): Mira Nair and the Children • Background (2): • Bombay & Bollywood • Colonial Influences • Religion • Questions • Salaam Bombay
Mira Nair • Born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa in 1957 (middle class family) • Attended the University of New Delhi (Sociology and Theater) • Went to Harvard in 1976 (Sociology) (source) • Salaam Bombay (1988) • Mississippi Masala (1991) –Indian immigrants in relations to Afro-Americans • Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1997) based on an Indian classic • Monsoon Wedding (2001) Indians and immigrants • [Vanity Fair (2004) ] • The Namesake (2006) Indian immigrants
Salaam Bombay! History of Production • Interviews of street kids in Bombay. • Out of these interviews emerged a screenplay that was a composite of several lives. • “Then many [24 out of 150] of the children were enlisted for weeks in a daily workshop, not to teach them "acting" (for that they already knew from hundreds of overacted Indian film melodramas), but to teach them how to behave naturally in front of the camera.” (source)
What happened to the children? • "Our whole attitude was to meet them halfway and help them realize their own self-worth and dignity," said Nair in a … interview with The Christian Science Monitor (12 Oct 1988, p.19). "[We] wanted to help them create opportunities they want for themselves." Responding to this respectful approach, some children entered school, some returned home to their villages, some got jobs, and some have stayed on the streets. • Nair uses proceeds from the film to open learning centers for street children in both Bombay and Delhi. (source) • The film’s interviews
Salaam Bombay! • Awards: • the New Director's Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988 an Academy Award nomination for best foreign film in 1989 • Neo-Realism; A departure from Bollywood Musical.
Bollywood “come back a movie star.”
Questions • 500 rupees: How does Krishna go to Bombay? Why is he away from home? Why does he go to Bombay and what does he want to do there? (clip 7;11//chap 8, 11—41:00 ) • A migrant in a city: What is Krishna’s first experience of Bombay? (clip 1) Is there a pattern in his life there? Does he “grow” in the film? • Street kids and migrants in a city: How does he relate to the people he meets in Bombay? (e.g. Manju, Sweet 16, Manju’s mother, Chillum & the other street kids.) e.g. Why does Krishna fall in love with Sweet Sixteen? Is there a common pattern in their lives? • Religion, Culture and the Government: How do Bollywood musical, religion and the government influence the kids in the film?
Major Themes • Major Theme 1: Migrants in the city • Major Theme 2: comradeship and betrayal • Major Theme 3: Other Social factors (Language Differences and Illiteracy; slums in Bombay, government inefficiency; Colonialism/tourism -- in the background)
(1) Migratory identity in Salaam Bombay • Migratory identity: people drifted to the metropolis, lost in the crowd, e.g. shots of the train station -- Chaipau: his name (Krishna); no home address -- Chillum: completely lost Mixture of language & illterate -- the sweet 16: no name, no language
Salaam Bombay: survival • How do Krishna and the other kids survive? • Skin chicken, clean chicken coops; keeps a sense of beauty and love • rob an old man, • serve in a rich man’s wedding party
Major Themes in Salaam Bombay Desire for home e.g. Krishna -- tries to write home -- needs 500 rupees so that he can go home -- forms a “family” in Bombay (Chillum, the other children). • What about Manju’s family?
Salaam Bombay: The migrants in a city (2) • Manju’s family— • Baba – child-abuser and pimp (chaps 12, 15 ) • Mother –loving but cannot help (happy moments when the father is not around) • Manju– lonely and in desperate need of love. (e.g. clips 8, 9, 12, 14//chap 13, 14)
Salaam Bombay: a series of betrays Chillum Baba His wife & Manju Krishna The other street kids The Sweet Sixteen The circus boss
Major Themes (2): Vicious Circle? • Comradeship, betrayal and rebellion/survival-- Pattern of Repetition: • Drug-dealing: the death of the previous drug dealer, Chillum and then another Chillum. • Cheating: Manju’s mother cheated, The Sweet Sixteen Some are self-destructive and some, surviving • Chillum – has no friend; cheats Krishna with his “bank.” • Krishna’s setting fire as a way of rebellion against his brother, and then against the whorehouse
Major Themes 3: Social Factors • Why are Baba and his wife not named? • Why do people call Krishna “Chaipau”? • What roles do Krishna God play in this film? And the “Chiller room”? (clip 20, 22) • Who sends the two kids to Chiller room? • How is the chiller room presented?
Bollywood & Mixture • hybrid culture and identity (e.g. Chillum, Manju’s dance—clip 3; Ms. Hawaii in the movie clip 6/chap 4, 6 21:00 )
Salaam Bombay: social factors • State intervention: Chiller Room (Children’s Home) • drug, prostitution and Bollywood • traces of colonial influence: • cricket, tourists, statues, movies • Religion: helpless. E.g. Ganesh (ending)
The Role of the Government • Disciplines only to lead to violence, indifference of the guards and endless procrastination in bureaucracies • Self-righteous intervention of Manju’s family.
The Ending? • Left alone • Weeping • Spinning top • Looking up at the camera --calm
References: • Roger Elbert. SALAAM BOMBAY!
Next week: stories of 3 girls and a young woman • During the time of partition -- in Earth; • Over the issue of marriage in “Gainda”