We’re a long way from the escapist song-and-dance numbers that characterize so manyIndian films. Salaam Bombay! is set on the mean streets of Bombay, with special focuson the street children living there. The main character is Krishna, who tries to make a life forhimself, but circumstances push him towards crime. Many of the roles are actually played byhomeless children.
The soundtrack (in Hindi) comes in both the original mono and in a…new 5.1 mix. The re-mixisn’t bad at all, avoiding most of the flaws that plague converted mono. The surround effect, forboth the music and the sound effects, is relatively low key, and is often limited to a kind ofecho, but the technique works, fills out the sound, and avoids distortion.
The format is the original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The blacks are a bit grainy, andthere is some minor grain throughout, but the look of the film is very gritty, and so this is notreally out of place. The flesh tones and colours are good (again, within a gritty context).
Two commentaries are on offer here. Both are very articulate, especially the first, bydirector/co-writer Mira Nair, who has a lot to say about the film’s goals and its relationship withother Indian films. Cinematographer Sandi Sissel’s discussion is much more technical in nature.There are six featurettes, and rather than the usual promotional puffery, each is a retrospectiveinterview with the cast and the screenwriter (and it’s interesting to see where some of these streetkids are now, fifteen years on). The last of the featurettes is about the Salaam Balak Trust, a fundset up in the wake of the film to help street kids. This socially active theme carries on in thephoto gallery, which was the result of cast and crew collaboration, and is not your standardproduction stills. Finally, there’s the theatrical trailer. The menu has an animated and scored introand main page.
As North American audiences get access to more and more Indian cinema, it’s nice to seethis release of one of the first that really caught on with audiences in this neck of the woods. Niceselection of extras, too.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Cinematographer’s Commentary
- 6 Featurettes
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer