Review & Synopsis: Salaam Bombay (1988)

Bombay (Mumbai), the most colorful city in the world -the hub for filmy duniya, money and fame, is unfortunately a home to the biggest slum “Dharavi,” filled with the life of misery, poverty, struggle and deprivation. What makes Bombay the biggest city in the world, is that everyone who live or have migrated here, have big dreams. Dreams are what they live for! Dreams make their pulse run faster! The hunger for power, money and fame has made a man work round the clock, 24/7.


Salaam Bombay (1988), directed by Mira Nair, is such a rare gem of today’s Indian Cinema, has captured the truth and audacity of Indian poverty. The brilliance in the script, acting, plots, dialogue and backdrop has reproduced Bombay ‘Mumbai’.

The daily chores of the protagonists in the movie; tea selling, garbage collecting, robbing old and helpless people, selling drugs and sex trading, are strikingly realistic. Though, the life of people has been shown through a Cinematic spectrum, it looks as we watching it live and in person.



Krishna (Shafiq Syed) is abandoned at some circus by her mother, and is demanded to earn Rs.500 before returning home. One day, circus packs and leave him at his own. Krishna’s fate take him to Bombay (Mumbai) -the city of dreams. His first day in the city and he is robbed by some petty street hooligans, who eventually become his friends and later acquaintances.

Krishna aka Chaipau with his friends

Krishna aka Chaipau with his friends

Chillum (Raghuvir Yadav) is small time drug selling bumpkin, working for Baba (Nana Patekar), a retired pimp. Krishna works at some small tea stall near Grant Road Railway Station. He has a new name now Chaipau (The Tea Boy). He makes a regular round in the notorious red-light area of Falkland Road -the Harlem of prostitutes, everyday to sell teas. Krishna falls in love with Shola Saal, a young prostitute who is locked in a room to be prepared for her highest bidding client, who’d enjoy a chance to deflower her. Krishna misses his home and family, and his only ambition is  to earn Rs.500 asap and return back to his village. Chillum is terminated from the drug selling job by Baba, and he starts wandering Bombay street looking for petty cash, and heroin -with which he cannot survive a day. Krishna starts taking care of Chillum, other friends, and making Shola Saal happy.

One fine day, he is terminated from his tea selling job. With little money in hand and a dream to return to his village, he starts doing petty job. His best friend Chillum dies due to overdose of drugs, which he has bought with the money saved by Krisha. he is found wandering on the street by a policeman, and is send to a Juvenile. He befriends other orphans in the center and learns a plan to escape. With the desperation to meet Shola Saal and to return to his village, he runs away from the center, only to find his Love has been bought and taken away by a rich client. He accidentally stabs Baba, who is seen quarreling with his mistress. He saves and tries to run away with the mistresses, however, due to stampede in a local Ganpati Rally (Ganesha Puja) they get separated.

At the end, he is seen sitting in an abandoned street, desolate, thinking about his future, in Bombay but his village.”



Salaam Bombay in IMDB
Child Welfare Trust initiated by Mira Nair, Salaam Bombay Trust


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