(From our issue dated 8th April, 1995)
Few films get as much pre-release publicity as Mani Ratnam’s Bombay has got. The publicity hype made people’s expectations about the film soar. The music of the film also became a rage, adding even more to the curiosity.
Aalayam’s Bombay (dubbed from the Tamil film of the same name) lives up to all sky-high expectations. Set against the backdrop of Bombay’s communal riots in 1992 and 1993, it is a love story of a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl who break the barriers of religion and family ties to get married. They have a family of their own and how the riots affect an innocent family like theirs has been narrated beautifully.
One of the biggest plus points of the film is the conviction and honesty with which it has been made. Everything seems so real, the audience moves with the characters. Yet another strong point is the emotional content of the drama, which moves the viewer.
The first half is full of fresh romance, wonderful songs and cute light scenes. The second half is devoted to the riots and the impact they have on common citizens. It is heavy and has been treated with a class touch. But if the audience doesn’t mind the tension or the elitist touch, it is only because of the family emotions after interval, which are oh so natural.
There are a number of scenes which create a positive and, sometimes, a lasting impact for their sheer simplicity or novelty. For instance, the hero and heroine passing love messages to each other via the kids in their room, the quarrels of the hero’s father and the heroine’s father, the heroine’s family going to the hero’s house (even though the families are not on talking terms), the heroine announcing that two Gods would protect her two children, the heroine simply breaking down on seeing her parents after six years, the heroine’s conversation with her father-in-law, the hero weeping on the burning street when his children get separated from him, the interval point when the two children are saved in the nick of time — these and several other scenes reveal the genius in writer-director Mani Ratnam.
Among the clap-worthy scenes are the eunuch coming to the rescue of the child, the child wiping off the tilak on the forehead of his grandfather, the Muslim father saving the life of the Hindu father, the hero’s tongue-in-cheek reply to this father that he cannot wait till his (father’s) death etc.
Arvind Swamy does a fantastic job. He is superb in romantic as well as emotional scenes. Manisha Koirala’s is an award-winning performance. She is extremely endearing in everything she does, and she looks very beautiful. Nasar and Kitty, as the two fathers, are natural and provide comic relief. Master Hriday and master Harsha are extremely cute. Tinnu Anand, Akash Khurana and the rest lend good support. Sonali Bendre and the male dancer do a good job in the ‘Humma humma’ number.
Direction is par excellence. Mani Ratnam has balanced the drama wonderfully. Climax looks a bit abrupt but there was little choice for an alternative. Dubbing is very good. A.R. Rahman’s music is first rate. All the songs are excellently tuned. Picturisation of ‘Tu hi re’ is remarkable. Locations are breathtaking. Camerawork is splendid, to say the least. Background score deserves special mention. Mob and action scenes (Ravi Dewan) deserve full marks.
On the whole, Bombay is a surefire hit. It deserves to be exempted from tax for its message of communal harmony.
Released on 7-4-’95 at some cinemas of Bombay (it could not be released in the city and suburbs due to the police commissioner’s order) by Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd. thru Shringar Films. Publicity & opening: mind-boggling. ….Also released all over. Opening was extraordinary at most of the places.
Disturbing, Disgusting, Dangerous
Anybody Is A Censor Body
Whatever has happened and is happening to Mani Ratnam’s Bombay in Bombay is rather unfortunate. It should not have happened to any creative work, least of all to Bombay which has been duly certified by the Central Board of Film Certification. Suddenly, people have sprung up from nowhere to act as guardians of law. Bombay has not been permitted to be released in Bombay city and suburbs. It was released at other places in India amidst tension.
A lot of hue and cry is being raised over how the minority community has been depicted in the film. But in all fairness to Mani Ratnam, no community has been shown in bad light. If the objection of the minority community is to the Muslim girl falling in love with a Hindu boy, the objection is so silly and stupid that it needs to be ignored with the contempt it deserves. If the community has been hurt at the Koran being blown up in a blasting scene, it should not overlook the fact that it is a Hindu who tries to save the Koran and in doing so, he is also killed in the blast.
The objection that it is the Muslims who have been shown as starting the 1992 riots in Bombay holds no water. No cinegoer, unless he sits with a microscope, gets that feeling in the film and to the good fortune of the revolting community, nobody in India goes to the cinemas with a microscope.
There can be as many replies — or even more — as the number of baseless queries raised by anybody about the intentions behind Bombay. Only one clear intention emerges at the end of the purposeful film — and that is to spread communal harmony.
The suspension of the release of Bombay on the say of a handful of people is fraught with dangers. It questions the very standing of the CBFC. It jeopardises the freedom of expression given by the Constitution of India to every citizen. It makes a mockery of our entire legal and social system. It only exposes how uncertain things are in this country. It proclaims from rooftops the inefficiency of our police force. It only goes to show how anybody can make his own law in this land and get away with it. It is a bad precedent and needs to be condemned by every creative person in whatever field of art he may be.
If the minority community feels so strongly against the film, let it pass a fatwa prohibiting its members from seeing the film. That could be a good form of protest. But what is all this about threats of dire consequences if the film is allowed to be screened?
Bombay was burning as it never did, in December ’92 and January ’93 when the communal riots rocked the city. Every Bombay inhabitant’s heart should be burning today when the release of Bombay has not been permitted, only because some people did not like it.
And such senseless controversies are bound to not let the film get its worth. For, what it actually deserves is tax exemption. Let not a voice of dissent over its release make the authorities overlook objectively that the film is indeed one of the best films made on national integration. Nothing, I repeat, nothing short of 100% tax exemption can do justice to the creative and brilliant piece of work called Bombay. And not just in Bombay and Maharashtra but all over India.
– Komal Nahta
YOU ASKED IT
Has Mani Ratnam’s Bombay taken a bumper opening because of the publicity it got due to the controversy?
– Why do you forget the super-hit music also?
When does tax exemption not help a film?
– When it lacks any merits whatsoever. Also, when the film does not boast of face value, tax exemption may not be of any help.
What is essential for ensuring a good initial to a film?
– Popular music (not necessarily hit), a good star-cast and, most important, luck.
‘VIJAYPATH’ SONG IS VULGAR: HC
The Bombay high court has declined to include the deleted portion of the song, Kal saiyan ne aisi baat kahi, from Vijaypath, declaring that its picturisation was vulgar and the body movements and gestures, to say the least, were vulgar and obscene. Mr. Justice G.D. Kamat and Mr. Justice N.D. Vyas said, they had seen the video cassette and were in full agreement with the Tribunal’s findings that the deletions were absolutely necessary.
Time Magnetics, producers of Vijaypath, had filed a writ petition in the high court, challenging the deletion by CBFC, ordered by the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.
The judges observed that the filmmakers should try to mould the views and attitudes of the society instead of defending themselves for such songs by saying that “the public wants it”. It was time, they realised their responsibility, they added.
THE LIGHTER SIDE
Two Bals were in news on Friday (7th April) — Balkrishna Shroff (popularly known as Bala), the Bombay distributor of Bombay, and Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief. Both their names cropped up in all discussions about Bombay. Which made a quip remark, “Thank God, there was no communal tension breaking out in Bombay. Bal Bal bach gaye!”
Last night, I dreamt on board the flight from Delhi to Bombay. I dreamt about my producer-friend. He had completed his maiden production and was in the process of finalising its release date.
I dreamt that he came to my house. He looked very nervous and I asked him whether he had signed Vinod Khanna for his next venture. “No, I’ve not signed him,” he replied. “But why did you assume that I had signed Vinod Khanna?” I just smiled and refrained from telling him that the nervous look on his face matched that of another producer-friend of mine who was making a film with Vinod.
Anyway, what was the matter then, I wanted to know. “I have to get my film cleared,” he panicked.
“You mean, you’ve got to get it censored?”, I queried.
“Yes, yes,” he nodded nervously.
“But you had told me that your film is neat and clean. Then why are you so scared of the censors?”
“Since my film has three heroes — a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh — I have to get it censored from the religious heads of all the three communities,” he began. “There is a scene in the film in which the Hindu guy and the Muslim guy, due to some misunderstanding, get into a fight. I’m scared, the Maulvi leader will object to the fight because I’ve shown that the Muslim hero uses his fists before the Hindu hero,” he continued, his voice quivering with fear. “You know, as the Muslims have objected to the scene in Bombay in which the Muslims are shown as starting the riots.”
I nodded in agreement.
“I am also scared about a comedy scene in which the Muslim hero disguises himself as the Sikh hero and wears a turban too. I’m afraid, the Sikhs may object to the Muslim fellow sporting a turban.”
“Yes, you have a point,” I told him.
“I am not sure about the Hindus too,” he started after a small coffee break. “I have Satish Shah playing a Hindu political leader. His name is H.K. Advani and he is shown travelling in a rath. His rath has a breakdown, and I’m afraid, the Hindus will revolt against this breakdown.”
“Yes, they can break your back in disgust,” I told him very matter-of-factly.
“I am also wary about the Parsi community,” he continued, now almost in tears. Dinesh Hingoo plays a Parsi chap in my film, and I’m terribly concerned about how the Parsis will react to his character. I shudder to think of the consequences because I have a gut feeling that the Parsis will call for a ban on the release of my film.”
“What does the Parsi chap do in your film to invite the wrath of the entire community?”, I asked him.
At this stage, my friend could not control his tears. As they rolled down his cheeks, he mumbled, “The problem is, he does nothing consequential in my film. He is always making people laugh because of his absent-mindedness.”
“Oh yes, I agree, the Parsis may react rather violently,” I told him.
My friend’s tears now began to flow faster. I offered him a glass of water and he thought, I was hinting that he should drown himself in it for having made such a harmless film. “This is for you to drink and steady your nerves,” I told him.
“I am also frightened about the women’s organisations,” he sobbed. “I feel, they will ask for the deletion of a song picturised on my three heroines because they have worn bikinis in it.”
“Where has the song been picturised?”, I asked him.
“In the swimming pool,” he wept, threatening to create a pool with his tears, right inside my house.
“Oh, then they will definitely ask you to delete the song,” I cautioned him. “How could you show the girls wearing bikinis in a swimming pool?”, I tried to talk like a representative of a Mahila Sanghathana.
“I’ve not yet told you about the policemen,” my friend said. “There’s no way, the policewallahs will let my film be released.”
“Have you shown the policemen as being corrupt?” I queried.
“No, I’ve shown them to be extremely honest people. And I fear, the police force will not like to see themselves in such good light,” he whispered.
“You must be a fool to show all honest cops in your film,” I scolded my friend. “How could you be so naive? Okay, stop howling now. You shouldn’t be crying over your own follies.”
Just as I thought, it was the end, my friend wiped all his tears and muttered, “There is also a scene of eunuchs in my film and I’m sure, the hijras of India will be up in arms if I don’t delete that scene. Some four eunuchs are shown travelling in the general compartment of a local train in Bombay. The community of eunuchs will raise its ugly voice to protest against their travelling in the general compartment instead of a ladies compartment.”
“You are in for trouble with the eunuchs, too,” I thundered. “God save you. Anyway, what about the Central Board of Film Certification? When will the CBFC censor your film?”
“The CBFC? It has already seen my film yesterday. I even collected the censor certificate this morning,” he smiled for the first time.
“Oh, good. Did the CBFC offer any cuts?”, I asked.
“Not a single cut,” he grinned.
“And where is your censor certificate?”
“I’ve thrown it in the dust-bin.”
“Are you crazy? Why did you throw it away?”
“I just heard somebody say, ‘These days, the censor certificate has no value. Even a censored film can be banned.’ So, I thought, why keep a worthless piece of paper even in my file!”
The aeroplane landed at Santacruz airport with a loud thud. And I woke up with a start. I was in Bombay — Mani Ratnam’s Bombay. Humma, humma….!!
– Komal Nahta
‘Bombay’ Released Amidst Tension
Release In Bombay Postponed
No film in the past must have been released in as tense an atmosphere as Mani Ratnam’s Bombay this week. So delicate was the situation in some places like Bombay city that the police commissioner had to give orders on Friday to postpone its release by a week. Bombay will be released in Bombay city and suburbs on 14th April now.
Bombay has been a controversial film right from the time it was submitted for censorship in Madras. Set against the backdrop of the communal riots that rocked Bombay city in December ’92 and January ’93, it was feared to ignite communal tension on release. Its clearance at the CBFC also took almost two months.
But even the CBFC clearance, after the deletion of some scenes, did not set the controversy to rest. The Muslim religious heads in Hyderabad strongly criticised the film when its Telugu version was released there last month. The police commissioner of Hyderabad and Secunderabad had to order the discontinuance of the film from all cinemas of the twin cities after three days of its running. It was also discontinued from some other sensitive parts of Andhra Pradesh and from Hubli (in Karnataka) after one week. The film has not been released there again since then.
The position of the Hindi version, released this week, in various circuits is as follows:
Bombay: The police commissioner of Bombay on Friday morning ordered its postponement for a week in the cinemas of Bombay city and suburbs. Leaders of the Muslim community saw the film at a special show at New Excelsior on Thursday and were reportedly not happy with it. The film was, however, released in Thane district and in various parts of Maharashtra. It was discontinued from Thane, Kalyan etc. after the matinee (12 noon) show. The screening started again at 6 p.m. after a Shiv Sena corporator assured the cinemas that nothing untoward would happen and that the police commissioner’s orders were for Bombay city and suburbs only. The film is being screened at Aradhana, Thane, and at Vasai. The Kalyan exhibitor, however, has stopped its screening. The film may be released at another cinema of Kalyan today (Saturday).
Bombay opened in Gujarat and Saurashtra to fantastic houses on Friday. No untoward incidents were reported.
In Bijapur, the district collector has issued notices to all exhibitors on the basis of a telex message received from the home ministry that prior permission from the district magistrate would have to be obtained for screening Bombay. If any exhibitor would be found releasing the film without permission, he would be liable for criminal prosecution.
Delhi-U.P.: The film opened in U.P. on Thursday to bumper response. It was, however, discontinued from Meerut on Friday. It is running in other centres of U.P. It opened in Delhi on Friday to packed houses.
Bengal: The film opened in Calcutta and Guwahati on Friday, as scheduled.
C.P. Berar: Except in Bhilai, where the exhibitor reportedly backed out at the eleventh hour, the film was released on Thursday in other centres of C.P. Berar. There was some tension (presumably, pre-planned) at Smruti cinema, Nagpur when some miscreants in the morning (9 a.m.) show got up in the second half of the film and, shouting slogans, broke a number of chairs and the glass doors of the cinema. They were joined outside the cinema by the miscreants who pelted stones at passing buses. One bus was badly damaged and so were several cars parked in the cinema premises. One person was also injured. There was slight tension in Amravati too, in the morning show, but it was brought under control. Nothing untoward was reported on Friday. The response to the film was extraordinary.
C.I.: The film opened in Indore in 5 cinemas, and in Gwalior in 2 cinemas on Thursday. The crowds in Indore had to be seen to be believed. It drew all shows at all the 5 cinemas full on the opening day, collecting 1,18,000/-, a record! A small bomb was exploded in Madhumilan cinema, where Bombay has been released, on Thursday but no casualties were reported. Friday passed off peacefully. The collector of Indore saw the film on Thursday and issued a press statement that the film was not objectionable at all. In Bhopal, the collector saw the film on Thursday but did not give the green signal till late Thursday night. The film was released on Friday amidst a lot of tension but to full houses.
Rajasthan: The collector of Jaipur saw the film at Moti Mahal cinema at 2 p.m. on Friday. The 9 a.m. and 12 noon shows at all the 3 cinemas — Moti Mahal, Laxmi Mandir and Samrat — where it was scheduled for release, had to be cancelled. Huge crowds had gathered at all the three cinemas for the morning show, and they returned home unhappy when the collector ordered the screening to be cancelled. The collector around 5.30 p.m. permitted the release at two cinemas in Jaipur — Moti Mahal and Laxmi Mandir. As a result, the 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows were held. In Jodhpur, the film opened at Kohinoor on Friday at 9 a.m. to fair houses. It was also released in Udaipur in the 12 noon show, as scheduled.
Nizam: Since even the Telugu version of Bombay has not yet been released again in Hyderabad, there was no question of the Hindi verison seeing the light of the day on Friday there. Inside reports have it that the film may not be released there in the near future, at least.
NTR INAUGURATES RAMA NAIDU’S
Producer D. Rama Naidu’s recording and re-recording theatre at Rama Naidu’s Studio in Hyderabad was inaugurated on 1st April at the hands of Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao. The chief minister’s wife, Lakshmi Parvathi, lit the traditional lamp on the occasion. (Details of the inauguration will appear in our issue next week.)
STAR VOICES FOR ‘RAMAYAN’ DUBBING
Rajan Lall, who has acquired the Hindi dubbing rights of the Indo-Japanese animation film, Ramayan, has completed the dubbing in the voices of Shatrughan Sinha (who has narrated the Hindi commentary of the film), Arun Govil (who has dubbed Lord Rama’s voice) and Rameshwari (Seeta’s voice). Ramayan will be released in May all over.
MUKESH KHANNA AS SUPER-HERO
Mukesh Khanna launched Bheeshm International Pvt. Ltd.’s TV serial, Shaktimaan, on April 2 with a 2-day shooting stint at Central Library and other Bombay locales. Mukesh Khanna plays the title role of Shaktimaan, a super-hero with extraordinary yogic power, who fights the evils of society.
The serial is co-produced by Jatin Jani and is directed by Dinkar Jani. Kittu Gidwani is in the female lead. It is written by Ghalib Asad and Yatindra Rawat. Action: Amin Gani.
RAMSWAROOP CHAUDHARY HOSPITALISED
Rajasthan distributor and exhibitor Ramswaroop Chaudhary was hospitalised in Delhi last week for jaundice and other complications. He is still in Delhi and his health is causing concern to his near and dear ones.
SON FOR SANJAY CHATURVEDI
Jyoti, wife of Bombay distributor Sanjay Chaturvedi (ABC Pictures Pvt. Ltd.), delivered a baby boy on 2nd April in Bombay. This is the couple’s first child.
Just a few years back, when Doordarshan used to telecast one and, later, two films a week, the industry had cried hoarse that it (the film industry) was doomed, that television was spelling the death-knell of the industry, that producers, distributors and exhibitors would have to down shutters soon. Today, with DD having started its movie channel — Movieclub — and Zee TV and ATN about to start their own Hindi film channels, each of which will screen more than 20 films a week, what does one say? That the industry is doomed, that television is spelling the death-knell of the industry, that producers, distributors and exhibitors will have to down shutters soon? Sounds like an action replay, doesn’t it?
The showman that Boney Kapoor is, he has advertised his Prem at a place where it is getting worldwide mileage. Attractive hoardings of the film have been put up in the cricket field at Sharjah where international matches are being played. What’s more, brother Anil Kapoor flew to Sharjah on 6th April and witnessed the cricket match. Television cameras captured Anil Kapoor who was asked by the commentator to give the running commentary for a while! Anil was also interviewed by the commentator for the television cameras, much to the delight of fans!
Security Checks For ‘Bombay’
The atmosphere outside the cinemas where special invitee shows of Bombay were held on 5th and 6th April in Bombay was as tense at the start of the film as the film itself inside the auditoria. Since the story is set against the backdrop of the Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay in 1992 and 1993, it was feared that the film could spark off communal tension. So as not to take any chances, the Gaiety-Galaxy-Gemini cinemas on 5th, and the New Excelsior cinema on 6th had heavy police bandobast. The invitees were carefully whisked by security personnel with metal detectors before they entered the cinemas. The managements of the cinemas were on their toes alongwith the police all through the show to ensure that no untoward incident took place.
April 1 may be All Fools’ Day but the 1st of April in the industry this year was a day when several film personalities expressed a desire to stage comebacks in their respective fields. At the felicitation of Hrishikesh Mukherjee by the Indian Film Directors’ Association (IFDA) at Hotel Centaur in Bombay, veteran Hrishi-da was so moved by the glowing tributes paid to him by leading lights of the industry that it prompted him to say that he would make at least one more film before finally calling it quits. When it was Jaya Bachchan’s chance to speak at the felicitation function, the lady was emotionally moved as she went down memory lane and recalled her break in Hindi films in “Hrishi Kaaku’s” Guddi. And if Hrishi-da would make one more film, the Guddi girl would also make an exception and act in the film, declared Jaya. In Hyderabad, at the inauguration of D. Rama Naidu’s recording studio at the hands of star chief minister N.T. Rama Rao, Naidu Sahab, who had made his first film with NTR as the hero, said, it was his desire to make one more film with NTR in the lead. Upon this, NTR quipped, “I am ready.”
From Big Screen To Small Screen
After a long innings as an actor, Jeetendra is now busy producing software for television. He has formed a company, Balaji Telefilms, for making programmes for various satellite channels, and four serials are already being produced. Jeetendra’s daughter, Ekta, and wife, Shobha Kapoor, are actively involved in the production work. Hum Paanch is the first serial of Balaji to have gone on air (from 4th April on Zee TV). The other three serials being produced by Jeetendra are Mano Ya Na Mano, Captain House and Dhun Dhamaka. Of course, this is not to say that Jeetu has given up acting. The slim and trim Jeetendra continues to act in films also. So, it is acting for the big screen, and production for the small screen.
Maratha Mandir cinema in Bombay has a new class since last week. Called the Family Circle, this class has a total of 298 seats. As the name suggests, this class has blocks of 2 and 3 seats with more space between the blocks. The 2-seat block is for couples, while the 3-seat block is for families. According to Manoj Desai, manager of the cinema, “The response to the Family Circle in the first week was amazing.”