Anjali Saji On ‘Bombay’

Engineer, Ashgar Ali. “Economic and PoliticalWeekly”; On ‘Bombay’. Vol. 30, No.
26 (Jul. 1, 1995). P. 1556. Web. 23-06-2016

This article from the Economic and Political Weekly deals with the situations and restrictions the film Bombay faced while releasing. Bombay deals with the socio-political situation between the Hindus and Muslims during the Babari masjid scenario. This movie shows a Hindu boy falling in love with a Muslim girl who later elopes to Bombay evading their parents disapproval. Years pass and they lead a happy life but it is during this time that the turmoil begins that costs people their lives and livelihood. Mobs from both the communities hunt down each other and kill in the name of religion.
Releasing such a movie at that time was made difficult for director Mani Ratnam, who faced objections from both the religions. Bal Thackrey wanted some of the dialogues spoken by the actor Tinnu Anand (playing Thackeray in the film); but there were objections saying that the certain dialogues were lifted from his speech only and are not any additions. But succumbing to the pressure, Ratnam had to make those certain edits. Later, sections of the Muslim community raised objections on various grounds. First was that a Muslim girl eloping with a Hindu boy was considered as de-shaming their society. Second was the usage of artistic freedom.
Engineer argues that Mani Ratnam should not have made the cuts relating to Thackeray as once you submit to such threats by the leader of one community, you will have to face threats from leaders of the other community also. Ratnam would have been morally on much stronger ground in resisting the threats of Muslim leaders. And the government should not allow any pressure tactics to work once the film is approved by the Censor Board.
She goes on to talk about how Ratnam failed to show the analysis of the riot and its causes. So the film is deemed with more of a commercial value rather than artistic value. She compares it with respect to Govind Nihalani’s ‘Tamas’, and says that it is of far superior variety as the film makes a serious attempt to understand the causes of partition and violence which followed in its wake. ‘Bombay’, on the other hand, is a curious mixture of realism and fantasy. But, it must be said to the credit of the film that it does make an attempt to reduce the gulf between Hindus and Muslims. Hence this movie was welcome among the masses.


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