Bombay (1995)

 ●  Tamil ● 2 hrs 14 mins

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Shekhar (Arvind Swamy) is the son of a traditional Hindu father in a seaside village in Tamil Nadu. A journalism student studying in Bombay, Shekhar visits back home to see his family. On one of his return trips, he lays eyes on Shaila Bano (Manisha Koirala), a Muslim schoolgirl in the village. Initially shy, Shaila seeks to distance herself from Shekhar, but after frequent run-ins, and days of pursuit, Shaila begins to like Shekhar. Eventually, they both fall in love. A marriage proposal is vehemently opposed by the lovers' fathers. Shekar's father refuses to accept Shaila as his daughter-in-law, telling Shekhar to find another partner, whilst Shaila's father announces the need for an immediate marriage between his daughter and a Muslim man. Shekhar's father says if the two ever get married, he will cease talking to his son. Shekhar reacts angrily to his father's refusal to accept Shaila, and so leaves, back to Bombay. Shaila, under increasing pressure from her father, escapes from the village and joins Shekhar. At first, Shaila is overwhelmed by the city, having relocated for the first time from rural surroundings to a city life. However, with time she adapts to her new lifestyle. The two get married. The newlyweds move into a new apartment. A few months later, Shaila becomes pregnant and gives birth to twins, Kabir Narayan and Kamal Basheer. The twins are raised in both religions. Shekar continues to work as a journalist, whilst Shaila works at home, looking after the children. For six years, the family live in Bombay, settling in well, and begin the process of repairing relations with their respective families. The relatives visit the family in the city for the first time in over half a decade, and are overjoyed to see their two grandchildren. Meanwhile, in India, religious extremism launches each community against the other, causing a wave of Hindu/Muslim riots that leave hundreds dead in Bombay. Targets of violence from both sides, Shaila and Shekhar worry increasingly over the safety of their children, whom they raised with both Hindu and Islamic traditions. They are constantly under threat. The growing tension threatens to bring tragedy to the family and how they cope with it form the crux of the story.
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Cast: Manisha Koirala

Crew: Mani Ratnam (Director), Rajiv Menon (Director of Photography), AR Rahman (Music Director)

Rating: U (India)

Genres: Drama, Musical, Romance

Release Dates: 10 Mar 1995 (India)

Tamil Name: பம்பாய்

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Did you know? Even the Hindi version of the film earned INR14 crore (US$2.1 million), as reported by Box Office India, which was phenomenal for a dubbed film Read More
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as Shaila Bano
Supporting Actor
as Shaila's Mother
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
as Shekhar's father
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actress
as Shakti Samaj Leader
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actor






Story Writer
Screenplay Writer
Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Production Designer



Costume and Wardrobe

Costume Designer


Film Type:
Spoken Languages:
Hindi, Telugu
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.39:1 (Scope)
Music Label: Ram Audio, Pyramid Saimira, Music Master, Veneration Music

Music Director: AR Rahman
Lyricist: Vairamuthu
Playback Singer: KS Chithra, AR Rahman

Music Director: AR Rahman
Lyricist: Vairamuthu
Playback Singer: Hariharan, KS Chithra

Music Director: AR Rahman
Lyricist: Vairamuthu

Music Director: AR Rahman
Lyricist: Vairamuthu

Music Director: AR Rahman
Lyricist: Vairamuthu
Playback Singer: Sujatha Mohan
Filming Locations:
Several scenes of the city of Mumbai during riots were recreated with the help of photographs. Menon explained in an interview that, "The camera moves a lot; there would be long takes followed by three-four small cuts. It made lighting continuity easier for me and I was able to move fluidly." He said that Mani and him, both have a fascination for how Guru Dutt shot his song sequences. They were also inspired by Satyajit Ray's style.

When film director Mani Ratnam approached cinematographer Rajiv Menon to shoot Bombay, he described it as a film about the riots and said that he (Menon) needed to "make the riots as beautiful as possible". So, Menon suggested shooting in the rains to achieve the effect. They shot the interiors of homes in Pollachi in Tamil Nadu and the exteriors were shot in Kasargod in Kerala.

Even the Hindi version of the film earned INR14 crore (US$2.1 million), as reported by Box Office India, which was phenomenal for a dubbed film

The movie caused considerable controversy upon release in India and abroad for its depiction of inter-religious relations and religious riots. It was even in Singapore and Malaysia upon release.

The film's soundtrack sold 15 million units, becoming one of the best-selling film soundtracks of all time, and earning composer A. R. Rahman his fourth consecutive Filmfare Best Music Director Award (Tamil).

Eventually becoming one of the highest grossing films of the Chennai film industry, the film was well-received both critically and commercially; it is regarded as one of the most acclaimed Tamil films of the 90's. The movie was screened at many international film festivals including the Philadelphia Film Festival in 1996 where it was an audience favourite.

This is the second in Ratnam's trilogy of films that depict human relationships against a background of Indian politics, including 'Roja' and 'Dil Se..'.

This controversial movie is inspired from true events that revolve around the events during the period of December 1992 to January 1993 in India, and the controversy surrounding the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. After the subsequent demolition on 6 December 1992 there were increased religious tensions in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) that led to the Bombay Riots. This movie is set in this tense and sensitive backdrop, and explores patriotism beyond religious divisions.

Cameraman Rajiv Menon was offered the lead role by Mani Ratnam, but he turned it down.