Bombay (1995) Directed by Mani Ratna is a love story between two people who want to be with each other and although they have different religions they put their differences aside to make it work even though this causes them to separate from their families. Shekhar is the son of an orthodox Hindu Narayana Pillai living in a coastal village in Tamil Nadu. Shekhar is a journalism student studying in Bombay, India. On one of his return trips home to visit his family, he notices Shaila Bano, a Muslim schoolgirl in the village and falls in love with her at first sight. At first Sahila is shy, She seeks to distance herself from Shekhar, but after frequent run-ins, and days of pursuit, Shaila begins to like Shekhar. Eventually, they both fall in love. Although Shekhar knows that their love will not be accepted he speaks to her family and tells them that he wants to marry her. Basheer Shaila’s father throws him out, because they are different religions. Shekhar then reveals his interest to his father Pillai, who becomes angry, meets Basheer and gets into an abusive argument with him. Upset with rejection from both families, Shekhar leaves the village and returns to Bombay. Through Shaila's friend, he sends her a letter and a ticket for her to travel to Bombay. However, she is undecided; Basheer comes to know of her regular letters from Shekhar and plans to get her married immediately to stop this relation growing further. Left with no choice, Shaila leaves the village with the ticket sent by Shekhar and reaches Bombay. They get married and lead a happy life. Shaila conceives and delivers make twins who are named Kabir Narayan and Kamal Basheer. The twins are raised in both religions. Shekhar continues to work as a journalist, while Shaila takes care of home and children. After six years, Shekhar and Shaila settle down in their life and begin the process of re-establishing relationship with their respective families. When the Babri Masjid is demolished by Hindu fundamentalists, riots break out in Bombay. Kabir and Kamal, who have gone to buy groceries, get caught in the riots; eventually, Shekhar and Shaila save them and reach home safely. Shekhar’s father, who received the news of the riots, rush to Bombay to meet his son and his family. Everyone is happy with his arrival, and he stays with them. Soon, Basheer also comes with his wife and all of them live together happily for a few days. Both Pillai and Basheer are happy with their grandchildren and wish to be with them. However another riot breaks out and hundreds of poor people belonging to both the religions die. The house where Shekhar stays with his family also gets burnt. When Shekhar evacuates everyone, Narayana Pillai, Basheer and his wife get caught in the fire accident and die. The children who run to save themselves get separated from their parents. Shekhar and Shaila begin to search for them and they go through several tense moments. Shekhar participates in the movement to stop the riots with other religious leaders (who realise the futility of the riots by then) and succeeds. When the riots stop, the children who were saved by people from different religions, also turn up and join their parents.
A reoccurring theme in this film is Religion and family values. Although theses two people fall helplessly in love with one another due to the difference in religion their lives are made practically impossible by their parents. The only thing that is making this difficult for them is because their families believe in keeping marriage within their own communities and religion. And since Shaila and Shekhar have been raised to be this way they are also very torn and the decision they had to make was not an easy one. Even after they move in together and the families finally unite the Hindi and Muslim religions start to riot against each other. Almost reminding them how hard this is. But eventually after many deaths and tragedies the riots die and hope is restored.
My reaction to this film was that it opened my eyes to learn some history and to see what goes on in other countries. I’ve never watched a Bollywood movie and although I personally think that the dance & singing scenes were very corny and boring to watch the overall theme and story behind was very good and I enjoyed most of it. At first it just seemed like a corny love story, and almost unbelievable how two people can fall in love so fast and want to marry right away, shows a huge difference in our cultures and how things are here in America. But as the story unfolds and the theme about religion arises I became more interested. I could never imagine something like that happening here in the USA.