At first look, this movie starts off as just another love story set in a village. A guy getting floored by the beauty of a girl – that’s all. Unlike Rishi (Arvind Samy) and Roja’s (Madhubala) in Roja or Karthik (Madhavan) and Shakti’s (Shalini) in Alaipayuthey or Manohar (Karthik) and Divya’s (Revathy) in Mouna Raagam or for that matter, even Gautam (Prabhu) and Anjali’s (Amala) in Agni Nakshatram, which are love stories where their initial courting scenes to the scene where they express their love for each other itself are some unforgettable scenes, with the dialogues making them all the more memorable, this movie doesn’t have any of those. Except for the scene where Shekhar (Arvind Samy) gets into the same boat as Shaila Bhanu’s (Manisha) and tells her of his love, there are practically no dialogues between the two of them. But that’s where the song, ‘Uyire’ comes in – there couldn’t have better words than the lyrics of the song to express their love for each other.

But why complain about no or few dialogues between the lovers when there is beautiful music by A.R.Rahman accompanying the scenes throughout? 🙂 Arvind Samy moving to look down at the sound of Manisha’s voice and Manisha taking a hesitant step towards the stairs and their eyes meeting each other with pa sa ni sa ni sa in the background. Wow! The pa sa ni sa ni sa has always been one of my all-time favourite BGMs by Rahman!


Anyway so, what makes this love story an interesting one then? It’s their religions. Little can you guess in the beginning that an inter-religion love story set in a village in Tamil Nadu is going to be intertwined into the riots in Bombay!

To depict the theme that he had taken up and to address the issue that the movie dealt with, I am sure Mani Ratnam couldn’t have chosen better characters – a guy and a girl belonging to different religions from a village where inter-religion marriages are frowned upon and whose parents are very much attached to their religions too.

Yet, this is one of those rare Mani Ratnam’s movies in which I am not a big fan of the lead characters. The way Shekhar talks so harshly to his father saying he can’t wait till his death to marry his lover and all that stuff don’t go down well with me. I would have preferred to watch something like what happens in Alaipayuthey, where Karthik just walks out of his house without any hurting conversations with his parents (who are already hurt enough?).

Coming to the scenes after Shaila Bhanu reaches Bombay, I like the one where she waits in the railway station for Shekhar all the while getting a bit anxious, and he finally appears behind her and simply tells her that they are going to get married now. The song in the background (Marathi folk-ish tune?) after they get married is a nice one.



Even though you see a set of scenes portraying how happy they both are, the scenes which Mani Ratnam is a master craftsman in creating, especially the ones with all the kids, still you sense the insecurities felt by Shaila Bhanu. This is evident when her husband doesn’t tell her full name to the house owner and the house owners’ reaction when they realize that she is a Muslim, again when she does not feel comfortable to walk on the road while a Hindu procession is going on and later when she reads the letter that her father-in-law had written to her husband.

Even as the couple is shown to be leading happy lives after their marriage, back in the village, their marriage causes an enmity between their families that threatens to cause a clash between the people of the two religions in their village. Though it is stopped by Shekhar’s father even before it starts, you are made to realize that all it takes to start a riot is just a family feud.

And then, the song, poovukkenna poottu – I love watching especially, the last part of this song! 🙂 From just-born babies bundled up in their parents’ arms to babies walking on top of their father’s back (!) to little kids playing happily with their parents near the sea – the red, blue, green and pink coloured costumes of all four of them is a riot of colours (hinting how happy and colourful their life is currently? 🙂 ) –, the introduction of Kamal Basheer and Kabir Narayan (brilliant selection of names, isn’t it?) couldn’t have been more beautiful! 🙂




Even as the story moves forward by six years in a single song, the scene when Shekhar, with an obvious discomfort on his face, goes out of his house and talks with a group of Hindus who have come for collecting money and the expression on Shaila Bhanu’s face at that point of time, shows that the years in between had done nothing to melt away their religious differences.

And then, the first glimpse of the riots – the confused twins saying, ‘main Hindu’, ‘main Muslim’ when asked which religion they belong to, the shock experienced by their parents when they see their children ready to be burnt alive, later, one of the twins waking up from his sleep because of a nightmare – a poignant portrayal of how much innocent people suffer in the wake of such riots.

Prakash Raj, though appears only a for a few minutes, brings out the polices’ perspective of the riots and it is in this scene that you see Shekhar torn between his duty as a reporter to confront the police and his gratefulness as a father to thank the police for helping him get back his children alive. And he does manage to do both successfully.

The scene where Manisha’s parents come to her house and Nasser, on seeing them, dresses up the kids like Hindus and brings them to meet their grandparents is one that is sure to bring a smile on everyone’s face. 🙂 The violin BGM makes this scene all the more enjoyable. The same man who playfully keeps fighting with his son’s father-in-law and feels so strongly about his religion and is hell-bent on making his grandchildren follow his religion, forgets everything when his life is saved by the same man with whom he is fighting everyday and even loses his life itself while trying to save the Quran from getting burnt. Isn’t Narayana Pillai’s (Nasser), the only character that is portrayed in-depth in this movie?


The parents’ search for their lost children, the emotional trauma that they suffer when they go searching for their kids in hospitals, so many children lying injured and on the verge of death in the hospitals, people brutally killing each other in the name of religion – these are scenes that makes your heart go out for innocent victims of the riots.


The song, idhu annai bhoomi/rukh jao, comes at the right point in the movie when the only hope in the minds of the victims is that the riots come to an end soon.


I love watching the scene where the twins get reunited. I have heard that Mani Ratnam used only one of the twins for some scenes since the other one couldn’t act/emote so well. Was this one of those scenes? The way the expression on the kid’s face changes from crying to a smile of overwhelming happiness on seeing his brother conveys the emotions that the child undergoes so beautifully. A scene where you need no words!

Though the riot is shown to come to an end so easily in an unrealistic way in the movie, the dialogues do make you thoughtful and wish that some day people do understand that what they are doing is stupidity and they have no right to take away innocent lives….

Though the climax gives the movie a fairy-tale ending, since in reality the family might not have got reunited so easily, still I love watching it. I like happy endings. Arvind Samy seeing his kids first, then turning Manisha’s face to make her see them, her reaction on seeing them (sad, tear-drenched face to an expression of joy clearly evident on her face), then, how the kids see them and they all run towards each other makes you feel the joy that is shared by the family.

Then, in the climax, a young girl with a smile on her face joins the human chain. The smile on the girl’s face looks so lovely.

No words will be enough to describe what a great song ‘malarODu malaringu’ is! The lyrics wouldn’t have got better music and there couldn’t have been better words to match the mood created by the music!

malaroadu malar ingu magizhndhaadum boadhu
manadhoadu manam inRu pagaikoLvadheno
madham ennum madham oayattam
desam malar meedhu thuyil koLLattum

There couldn’t have been a better song to end this movie! And here I am ending this post, with hopes that one day madham ennum madham ends and peace reigns in this world!

P.S.: This is my 300th blog post. Can there be a better choice than one of my favourite Mani Ratnam’s movies, a movie with brilliant cinematography by Rajeev Menon and superb music by A.R.Rahman, for my 300th post? 😉

29 thoughts on “Bombay

  1. Harii

    300 not out Gr8 🙂

    A small info… climax scene was shot at the campa cola grounds and you could find the SPIC building in one of the scene’s

  2. Aparna

    Such a short comment for a looong post?

    Vijay Ganesh,

    Thank you 🙂 This post isn’t just about music! Did you even read it or not?

    Thank you

    Welcome to my blog!

    🙂 Yeah I knew that.

  3. subbu

    i love this BGM (the first one in this blog)…. was searchin for it for few yrs and finally got it here…. thanks.. 🙂


  4. Bharath

    Brilliant post. I have always considered Bombay to be one of Mani Rathnam’s most powerful movies… The scene where Arvind Swamy goes to Manishas house and says their blood will mix… The riot scenes with the background music… The scene where Arvind and Manisha are looking for the kids in the hospitals… No other movie other than Nayagan has been as powerful and hard hitting as Bombay… Of course Rahman has composed excellent tunes but I will always consider Rajiv Menon’s cinematography to be one of the biggest plus points of this film (Too bad Rajiv Menon doesnt get the same magic in his own films – He did recreate the magic in Guru as well).

    Saw your other post on Patchai Niramae but I think Uyire is the ultimate love song – Both in music and picturization… and Kannalanae is one of Mani Rathnam’s best shot songs in his favourite location

  5. Aparna

    Thank you! Was waiting for your comment for this post 🙂

    I also find this to be a powerful movie but I have heard many say that they second-half of the movie should have been better…

    I consider uyire to be the one of the best songs too (it is one song where everything is perfect) but pacchai nirame is a song that will always remain close to me for more reason than one. That’s why I always rate it above all other songs.

    As for kaNNaaLane being the best song shot in Mani Ratnam’s favourite location, I couldn’t agree with you more on that. I didn’t like most part of the picturization of Tere Bina.

  6. Bharath

    Reluctantly I have to agree about Tere Bina – During the promos I thought it would out-do Kannalanae but unfortunately he messed it up somewhere… Not sure if its the alternating of the song and their separation, or just the dance sequence itself… I read somewhere that Tere Bina was supposed to be Ash and Abhi going for some friend’s wedding but it didn’t obviously turn out that way..

    Second half – Frankly I think Mani Rathnam winds up too fast and abruptly in the second half – Its happened in Guru, Yuva and to a smaller extent in Alai Payuthey and Dil Se. So relative to these films, Bombays second half is handled well, although of course as you say the end is too too abrupt. But then, in his defence, I’m assuming all riots do have a sudden start (which he showed very well with the reasons) and a sudden end (reasons this time were not so convincing)…

    Also, yet another movie where he’s made kids act brilliantly… I dont remember now but I read somewhere at that time that the kids voice (sighing?) in the Halla Gulla song is that of Mani Ratnams kid’s or Rahman’s kids’

  7. Aparna

    I would say it’s the dance sequence itself. There are many places where I can’t stand watching Abhishek & Aishwarya dance. 😐

    Oh. Had it been Ash & Abhishek attending a friend’s wedding then, everybody would have said that it’s similar to yaaro yaaroDi or kaNNaaLanae 😉

    What you say is true to some extent. But you feel that the second half of Alaipayuthey is a bit fast and abrupt? I have heard many say that it’s a bit too slow. ? But I don’t agree either with them or with you. 😉

    > all riots do have a sudden start (which he showed very well with the reasons)

    > a sudden end (reasons this time were not so convincing)…
    Yeah but if at all those people ever had the patience to listen to someone’s reasoning as to why the riots should stop and if they were willing to show a humanitarian side & change for the better, then I am sure Mani Ratnam’s dialogues would do wonder to them. 😉

    Writing about dialogues here, it just now struck me how Mani Ratnam has showed using Bombay and Alaipyuthey (two movies for which he had himself written the dialogues) that not only can he write sweet, romantic dialogues (Alaipayuthey of course) that make you like that love story all the more but he can also make a love story sans those (Bombay) and still make you like it equally. 🙂 Mani sure seems to know where to write lotsa dialogues and where not to 😉

    Btw, more than riots ending abruptly, I always feel that as though Mani Ratnam has put a constraint on himself that most of his films won’t be more than 2 hrs 20 min long (Alaipayuthey, Bombay, Roja, Kannathil Muthamittal, Aayitha Ezhuthu being classic examples). Maybe that’s the reason why the second half seems abrupt. If you take the case of Thiruda Thiruda, which was 2.5 hrs long (maybe 2.5+?), I found the second half to be a bit dragging – some fight sequences seemed to stretch forever.

    I too vaguely remember hearing somewhere that it was Rahman’s kids’ voices.

  8. Bharath

    Yep you’re right I think its to do with the length of his films… Guru was the most classic example of such slick editing – I haven’t seen an Indian film where the editing has been as slick (Aishwarya runs away while the song is going on, Ay Hairathe plays in two parts while the movie continues)…

    Agree with you about Thiruda Thiruda – The movie slows down in the second half but I’ll always put that movie as one of his experiments… Rahmans music is brilliant though and I’ll regard this as one of his few albums where all his songs are great!

    Pace of movie – Only Kannathil, Nayagan and Anjali in that order seem to have a good pace – Not too fast and not rushed in the second half…

    Dialogues – Im sure you can do a separate post on dialogues in Mani Rathnam’s films – I dont think any other filmmaker has such crisp dialogues in his films. He keeps it short, sweet and simple – Which probably makes the dialogues more hard hitting. Some of the ones I remember are Meera Jasmine telling Madhavan that she aborted not because of the child’s fault but because its his kid… That movie had a lot of other hard hitting dialogues as well.. Alai Payuthey has great dialogues too – The classic one being “I love you – Dont know what it means – But I wont jump from the train”… Will wait for your post on dialogues 🙂

  9. Aparna


    >>Pace of movie – Only Kannathil, Nayagan and Anjali in that order seem to have a good pace
    I think even Mouna Raagam would fit into this category. I think the pace of his movies will itself will be a good topic for a post

    >That movie had a lot of other hard hitting dialogues as well.
    Yup. I too liked many dialogues in Aayaitha Ezhuthu.

    Will try to write about the dialogues in Mani Ratnam’s movies. Thanks for the idea 🙂

  10. raheel

    Hi aparna,

    I just happen to visit ur blog and its great.

    Wanted to share something with you. I do usually browse thru ar rahman fan sites to know what all the other fans express bout him, but this is my first time in expressing it…usually it was just rahman’s music and myself…

    I read in one of ur blogs u met rahman and was tongue tied ——

    I can understand when u said that you were tongue tied when u actually saw A R RAHMAN in front of u…..the reason is that i have met him when he was in here in Pune for the Premeire of kisna with all other celebs.

    I have been following his music since ‘i ever started likin music actually’. when i saw him, i went to him, walked almost eleven steps with him, told him ‘ I listen to ur music day in n out, its made me live a different life’, he said’ touching my jacket under which i was wearing a Tee with his name imprinted on it “Do u speak tamil?’, and i couldnt asnwer to it cos i was shivering when i heard him talk man…..
    i did not enter the screen as i was shivering for almost 30 mins and then called dad on his cell and told him that i actually met Rahman.

    One moment in life i will treasure till i die.

    Thanks Rahman, Thank god for making this happen!

  11. Dharshie

    If I had to choose one movie out of all Indian movies to screen at an International Film Festival, it would be Bombay. Period.

  12. Dharshie

    oh and I think we should credit Sujatha for the dialogues as well. It will be interesting to see who Mani picks as a replacement for his next.

  13. Thavanesh

    Hey..ur blog is just awesome..Im a great fan of mani sir movies..keep up updating us wit his movie stuff…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *