Mani Ratnam spoke a cinematic language which many dared not to, many filmmakers back then lingered consciously in a specific area of portrayals subjected to their political inclinations. Rather Mani Ratnam chose a humanistic approach all above the justifications and ramifications of communal riots, the result was a groundbreaking and disturbing film, Bombay (1995).
There are constant obstacles between Shekhar (a Hindu) and Shaila Banu (a Muslim), the scenes between them are frequently shot with some object in between. But then, during the song “Uyire/Tu Hi Re” – Shaila’s burqa gets caught and she breaks through it, eventually releasing herself from the religion to towards pure love. Interpersonal and communal, the two halves of the film bring in a sense of hatred and a plight for humanity. Bombay is an evidence of courageous film-making, realistically shot riots scenes by Cinematographer Rajiv Menon and Art Director Thotta Tharani leaves a longing impact. Decade later, Rahul Dholakia’s Parzania (2007) left such an impact.
While Mani Ratnam chose to show the communal riots through innocent and humane eyes – twins and an eunuch. Twins, who basically stand for India-Pakistan, are separated amidst the violence unite towards the climax hinting communal harmony. While I’ve never seen an eunuch being treated in such a humane way, who is neither a male nor a female becomes a source point of ideal realization. The impact of such devastating happenings leave a prolonged psychological effects upon the children while politicians are busy handling their esteemed power. A.R. Rahman’s greatest theme ever-produced Bombay Theme evokes emotions and rips your already wrenching heart.
With characters that can be us or the neighbors, the anguish seeps deeply resulting into an unforgettable cinematic experience close to reality and touching humane story. Even after 20 years later, the film stands as a mirror of the society without a hiccup. Undoubtedly, Mani Ratnam is one of India’s finest storytellers.
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