IMDb says that Shafiq Syed is repairing auto rickshaws in Bangalore these days. Almost every garage I have seen has either a chotu, or a kuLLa (Kannada word for a short boy). Syed must have been one of them, or probably he owns a garage himself. I have no idea.
In the Salaam Bombay! inspired MTV-India’s chaiwala filler, the chaipu pulls off a cute jig to a great Kishore Kumar number. I had vaguely heard that the movie was about one such chaipu (chai serving boy), and his (mis)adventures in the dark underbelly that-is/of Bombay.
Cigarettes are used to great effect in many movies. The Man With No Name chews on his cigar with aplomb. John McClane, Tyler Durden, Vincent Vega, Verbal Kint, Marv, and others have pulled that great looking drag. But Raghubir Yadav beats ’em all in that abandoned railway coach. The sound of Bombay Locals in the background, the light, absolutely no style, no fancy smoke patterns, just smoke, just that. No cigarette has hit me that hard.
Radio cricket commentary and Aneeta Kanwar’s despondent walk from the remand home present the simple and casual irony that everyday life of Bombay represents. As for various other depictions of pathos and irony: to describe them, I will have to lay the entire movie frame by frame here. Do watch out for Nana Patekar’s fake laughter in the studio; it’s a gem. Bombay Ganpati crowds are used in many movies for the spectacle of scale they represent. But here, Ganpati plays (or doesn’t play) a role which stands out for its timing, effect, and of course, irony.
Salaam Bombay! hit me hard, esp. when I, along with chaipu, realized that there was a new charsi on the block. After the movie got over, all I could think about was about those days when I used play with my buguri (spinning top) as a kid. Now, in retrospect, I realize that it was just a feeling of gratitude to the process that decided my life. To objectively think about the merits of the movie, or even about the overall theme, I had to detach myself from the movie experience. It took a while.
Now, the lead actor of the movie works in a garage. A lot of searching couldn’t tell me what the little girl who played the role of Manju is doing now; hope she is doing fine. Meera Nair has moved on to other things, Nana Patekar used his dramatic laughs in other exaggerated stereotyped roles. Life goes on in Bombay, with its chai and biscut, local trains, pimps, seal-opens, hopelessness, and hope. There are no obvious messages. Its for me to think about, and hopefully, act.