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Salam BombayMira Nair (born October 15, 1957) is a New York-based Indian film director. She was born in India and attended Delhi University and Harvard. Her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay! won the directors award at the Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for an Oscar. She often collaborates with screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala.

Contents : 

1)  Meera Nair and her  Life History    

2 )  Meera Nair  and  Films  

3)  Meera Nair and  Her Literature  

4) Salam Bombay Special Notes 

Life History 

She is not a keralate, nor a Nair either. But was included as her name is ending with Nair ( Please do not feel bad-Our aim is not to push Nair caste but Nair name) 

Mira Nair was born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India, the youngest of three children from a middle-class family. Her father was a civil servant and her mother a social worker. She did her schooling in Bhubaneswar and Simla. She studied sociology in Delhi University . Here, she became involved in political street theater and performed for three years in an amateur drama company. She left for the US at age 19 with a scholarship at Harvard.

At the beginning of her career as a film artist she directed four documentaries. "India Cabaret", about the lives of strippers in a Bombay nightclub, won the award at the American Film Festival in 1986. Her last master work Monsoon Wedding, a film about a chaotic Punjabi Indian wedding, was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice film festival.

She currently teaches at Columbia University in New York and is currently married to the famous academic Mahmoud Mamdani. Her latest project is Maisha, a film lab to help East Africans and South Asians learn to make films, headquartered in her adopted home of Kampala, Uganda.

The Namesake 
Vanity Fair (2004) 
[[9'1101 September 11|9'11''01 September 11]] (2002) (part called "India") 
Hysterical Blindness (2002) (TV) (for HBO) 
Monsoon Wedding (2001) 
The Laughing Club of India (1999) (TV) 
My Own Country (1998) (TV) 
Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) 
The Perez Family (1995) 
Mississippi Masala (1991) 
Salaam Bombay! (1988) 
Children of a Desired Sex (1987) (TV) 
India Cabaret (1985) (TV) 
So Far from India (1982) 
Jama Masjid Street Journal (1979) 

Her Literature
Jigna Desai: "Beyond Bollywood : the cultural politics of South Asian diasporic film". New York : Routledge, 2004 280 p. ill. ISBN 0-415-96684-1 (inb.) / ISBN 0-415-96685-X (hft.) 

Gita Rajan: "Pliant and compliant : colonial Indian art and postcolonial cinema". Women. Oxford (Print), ISSN 0957-4042 ; 13(2002):1, s. 48-69 
Alpana Sharma: "Body matters : the politics of provocation in Mira Nair's films". QRFV : Quarterly review of film and video, ISSN 1050-9208 ; 18(2001):1, s. 91-103 

Pratibha Parmar: "Mira Nair : filmmaking in the streets of Bombay". In: Spare rib, ISSN 0306-7971 ; 198, 1989, s. 28-29 

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster: "Women filmmakers of the African and Asian diaspora : decolonizing the gaze, locating subjectivity". Carbondale, Ill : Southern Illinois University Press, cop. 1997 ISBN 0-8093-2120-3 

Meera Nair and Her most important work in life- The Slam Bombay.

Special Notes On Salam Bombay: A superb portrayal of the homeless in the streets of Bombay through the eyes of a young kid. Bombay with its conglomeration of people becomes a character in the movie. The cinematography was excellent as it leaves a lasting impact on the viewers. Few movies handle such a difficult subject and I must say that Mira Nair and Sooni Taraporevala have done an excellent job. The music of L. Subramaniam has an haunting effect (sound track available under the same name), especially the movie theme and chillum's theme when he dies. Top jazz guitarists like Larry Correl have played for subramaniam, probably difficult to notice in the movie, so check the soundtrack. Overall very impressive.

Mira Nair and Salaam Bombay 


Mira Nair & the history of the production of Salaam Bombay.

Major Theme 1: Migrants in the city

Major Theme 2: comradeship and betrayal

Major Theme 3: Social factors 

Introduction to 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)

Films by Mira Nair 

Jama Masjid Street Journal (1979) 

So Far From India (1982)

India Cabaret (1985) 

Children of a Desired Sex (1987) 

Salaam Bombay (1988)

Mississippi Masala (1991)

The Perez Family (1993) 

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1997)

My Own Country (1998)

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

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 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  Meera Nair in a recent 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.

Meera Nair is using proceeds from the film to open learning centers for street children in both Bombay and Delhi.

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.

Salaam Bombay!: Questions 

How does Krishna go to Bombay? What is his first experience of it? (clip 1) 

Why is he away from home? Why does he go to Bombay and what does he want to do there? (clip 7;11 )

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?

Are there any traces of Bollywood musical influence in the film?

Major Themes 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 hybrid culture and identity (e.g. Chillum, Manju’s dance—clip 3; Ms. Hawaii in 
the movie clip 6)

Salaam Bombay: survival 

How do Krishna and the other kids survive?

Skin chicken, clean chicken coops; 

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 

Manju’s family—

Baba – child-abuser and pimp

Mother –loving but cannot help

Manju– lonely and in desperate need of love. (e.g. clips 8, 9, 12, 14) 

Salaam Bombay: a series of betrays 



His wife & Manju 


The Sweet Sixteen 

The circus boss 

The other street kids 

Major Themes (2) 

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? 

Salaam Bombay: social factors 

State intervention: Chiller Room

drug, prostitution and Bollywood

traces of colonial influence: 

cricket, tourists, statues, movies

Religion: helpless. E.g. Ganesh 

Salaam Bombay and Earth 

What do you think about the ending of Salaam Bombay? Is there any hope for the street children? 
What does the spinning top mean? 

How are the positions of Lenny and Krishna different in Earth and Salaam Bombay.

Can you think of any other film that is comparable to Salaam Bombay?



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