India (2): The Lives of Street
Kids in Mumbai
Migrant populations flock to the outskirts of cities
to find work. (source)
Background (1): Mira Nair and the Children
Bombay & Bollywood
Mira Nair and Salaam Bombay
Born in Bhubaneshwar, Salaam Bombay (1988)
Orissa in 1957 (middle Mississippi Masala (1991) –
class family) Indian immigrants in relations to
Attended the University of Afro-Americans
New Delhi (Sociology and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
Theater) (1997) based on an Indian
Went to Harvard in 1976
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
(Sociology) (source) Indians and immigrants
[Vanity Fair (2004) ]
The Namesake (2006) Indian
Salaam Bombay! History of
1. Interviews of street kids in Bombay.
2. Out of these interviews emerged a screenplay
that was a composite of several lives.
3. ―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?
1. "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.
2. Nair uses proceeds from the film to open learning centers
for street children in both Bombay and Delhi. (source)
3. The film’s interviews
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
―come back a movie star.‖
Traces of Colonial Influences
Traces of Colonial Influences
Traces of Religion?
Traces of Religion? Parade of
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
Religion, Culture and the Government: How do
Bollywood musical, religion and the government
influence the kids in the film?
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
-- the sweet 16: no name,
Salaam Bombay: survival
How do Krishna and the other kids
Skin chicken, clean chicken coops; keeps a
sense of beauty and love
rob an old man,
serve in a rich man’s
Major Themes in Salaam Bombay
Desire for home
-- tries to write home
-- needs 500 rupees so that he can go home
-- forms a ―family‖ in Bombay (Chillum, the
What about Manju’s
Salaam Bombay: The migrants in a
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)
Manju – reaching out in her own ways
Salaam Bombay: a series of
His wife &
street kids The Sweet
Major Themes (2): Vicious Circle?
Comradeship, betrayal and rebellion/survival-- Pattern
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
State intervention: Chiller Room
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.
Patterns in Krishna’s Life: survival,
Fun with the Spinning Top
Left Behind …
Looking up at the camera --calm
Roger Elbert. SALAAM BOMBAY!
Next week: stories of 3 girls and a
During the time of partition -- in Earth;
Over the issue of marriage in ―Gainda‖