A Landmark in recent Indian cinema, by acclaimed director Mani Ratnam. In January 1993 sectarian rioting left 2,000 Hindus and Muslims dead in Bombay. Only two years later Mani Ratnam's audacious Tamil film Bombay (1995) used these events as a backdrop to a love story between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl. Bombay was condemned by Muslim critics for misrepresentation and it was embroiled in censorship controversies. These served only to heighten interest and the film ran to packed houses in India and abroad. Lalitha Gopolan shows how Bombay struggles to find a narrative that can reconcile communal differences. She looks in detail at the way official censors tried to change the film under the influence of powerful figures in both the Muslim and the Hindu communities. In going on to analyse the aesthetics of Bombay, she shows how themes of social and gender difference are rendered through performance, choreography, song and cinematography. This is a fascinating account of a landmark in recent Indian cinema.
Lalitha Gopalan teaches Film Studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of Cinema of Interruptions: Action Genres in Contemporary Indian Cinema (BFI, 2002).
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