Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair, 1988)

We watched this in my Film and Place class about a week after Boyz n the Hood (which I hadn’t seen in at least a few years) to get two looks at urban community or decay or some jazz like that, and Boyz n the Hood was certainly a tough act to follow.  The raw emotion and power of that film, some needless melodrama aside, stayed with me for a good while afterwards, to the point that I was almost bored with how “ordinary” Salaam Bombay was.  But then I started to recognize just how effective the performances by these kids were, how they were both real and powerfully mature at once, so that I read up on the film’s production after I got home and realized just what an achievement these filmmakers made.  By finding real kids and filming their real stories in the environment where they actually happened, the filmmakers basically made a documentary that’s not a documentary, so that the fact that its story isn’t quite as powerful or flashy as Boyz n the Hood is probably a good thing.  The evolution of young Krishna from lost street urchin to a hardened street-wise adult in a child’s body was practically invisible until the end, when I was astonished by what this young protagonist had become.

And the semi-villain figure, the pimp Baba, bears a striking resemblance to David Blaine.  Thought that was worth pointing out too.


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