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Directed by Mani Ratnam
Produced by Mani Ratnam
S. Sriram
Written by Mani Ratnam
Starring Arvind Swamy
Manisha Koirala
Tinnu Anand
Sonali Bendre
Prakash Raj
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Rajiv Menon
Editing by Suresh Urs
Distributed by Aalayam
Ayngaran International
Release date(s) March 17, 1995
Running time 141 mins
Country India
Language Tamil
Gross revenue $3 million

Bombay (1995) is an award-winning Tamil feature film drama directed by Mani Ratnam, starring Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala, with music composed by A. R. Rahman. The film met with a strong reception upon release.

The film is centred on events, particularly during the period of December 1992 to January 1993 in India, and the controversy surrounding the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Increased religious tensions in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) led to the Bombay Riots.

Eventually becoming one of the highest grossing films of the Chennai film industry, the film was well-received both critically and commercially, and it was screened at many international film festivals including the Philadelphia Film Festival in 1996 where it was an audience favourite. However, the film caused considerable controversy upon release in India and abroad for its depiction of inter-religious relations and religious riots. The film was banned in Singapore and Malaysia upon release.

In July 2005, a book on the film by Lalitha Gopalan was published by BFI Modern Classics, looking at the film's production, the several issues it covered, and its impact upon release in India and abroad.[1][2] The film was also dubbed in Hindi and Telugu.




Shekhar (Arvind Swamy) is the son of a traditional Hindu father in a seaside village in Tamil Nadu. A journalism student studying in Bombay, Shekhar visits back home to see his family. On one of his return trips, he lays eyes on Shaila Bano (Manisha Koirala), a Muslim schoolgirl in the village. Initially shy, Shaila 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.

A marriage proposal is vehemently opposed by the lovers' fathers. Shekar's father refuses to accept Shaila as his daughter-in-law, telling Shekhar to find another partner, whilst Shaila's father announces the need for an immediate marriage between his daughter and a Muslim man. Shekhar's father says if the two ever get married, he will cease talking to his son. Shekhar reacts angrily to his father's refusal to accept Shaila, and so leaves, back to Bombay. Shaila, under increasing pressure from her father, escapes from the village and joins Shekhar. At first, Shaila is overwhelmed by the city, having relocated for the first time from rural surroundings to a city life. However, with time she adapts to her new lifestyle. The two get married. The newlyweds move into a new apartment.

A few months later, Shaila becomes pregnant and gives birth to twins, Kabir Narayan and Kamal Basheer. The twins are raised in both religions. Shekar continues to work as a journalist, whilst Shaila works at home, looking after the children. For six years, the family live in Bombay, settling in well, and begin the process of repairing relations with their respective families. The relatives visit the family in the city for the first time in over half a decade, and are overjoyed to see their two grandchildren.

Meanwhile, in India, religious extremism launches each community against the other, causing a wave of Hindu/Muslim riots that leave hundreds dead in Bombay. Targets of violence from both sides, Shaila and Shekhar worry increasingly over the safety of their children, whom they raised with both Hindu and Islamic traditions. They are constantly under threat. The growing tension threatens to bring tragedy to the family and during this tense situation, they lose their children in the city and the parents of Shekhar and Shaila get burnt in their house.

Shekhar and Shaila eventually get their children back, and also put an end to the riot.


The film has won the following awards since its release:



1996 National Film Awards

1996 Filmfare Awards

1996 Filmfare Awards South

1995 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards


1995 Edinburgh International Film Festival (Scotland)

2003 Jerusalem Film Festival (Jerusalem)

  • Won - Wim Van Leer In Spirit for Freedom Award - Best Feature - Bombay - Mani Ratnam

1996 Political Film Society Awards (United States)


Soundtrack by A. R. Rahman
Released March 10, 1995
Recorded Panchathan Record Inn
Genre Soundtrack
Length 40:50
Label Pyramid
Producer A. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology

Bombay: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The original soundtrack features a score and six songs composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics in the Tamil language by Vairamuthu. The soundtrack was also dubbed into Hindi and Telegu.


Track # Song Singer(s) Length
1 Antha Arabic A. R. Rahman, Suresh Peters 5:10
2 Kannalanae K. S. Chithra, A.R.Rahman 5:52
3 Uyire Uyire Hariharan, K. S. Chithra 7:14
4 Kuchi Kuchi Hariharan, Swarnalatha
5 Halla Gulla Noel, Anupama Deshpande, Malgudi Subha, G.V. Prakash, 5:53
6 Bombay Theme Instrumental 5:18
7 Malarodu Malaringu Anuradha Sriram 2:43
8 Idhu Annai Bhoomi Sujatha, Noel, Srinivas, Sivanesan, Ganga, Renuka, Anuradha 3:28


Track # Song Singer(s) Length
1 Kehna Hi Kya K. S. Chithra 5:52
2 Ek Hogaye Ham Aur Tum Remo Fernandes 5:10
3 Tu Hi Re Hariharan, Kavita Krishnamurthy 7:14
4 Kuchi Kuchi Udit Narayan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, G. V. Prakash, Sharadha 5:07
5 Kuch Bhi Na Socho Pallavi, Shubha, Anupama, Noel, Srinivas 5:53
6 Bombay Theme Instrumental 5:18
7 Aankhon Mein Ummeedon Sujatha, Chorus 2:43
8 Apna Zameen Yeh Sujatha, Noel, Srinivas, Sivanesan, Ganga, Renuka, Anuradha 3:28


Since its release, the soundtrack for Bombay has been influential, both nationally and internationally. In 2007, the soundtrack was included in The Guardian's "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die" list.[3] The soundtrack also found success across India in its dubbed Hindi and Telegu versions.

The track "Bombay Theme" from the soundtrack is an instrumental orchestral piece composed and arranged by A. R. Rahman. It was featured in the Palestinian film Divine Intervention in 2002, and more recently on the soundtrack and score of the Nicolas Cage film Lord of War, released in 2005. It has appeared on several compilation CDs since the film's release including on Volume 5 of the chill-out compilation Café del Mar, released in 1998. It also appeared on a French TV commercial for Volvic starring Zinedine Zidane in 2000. The theme was also sampled by the German band Löwenherz for their song "Bis in die Ewigkeit".[4]

The Hindi version of the song "Kannalanae", titled "Kehna Hi Kya", was included by The Guardian in its list of "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear" in 2009.[3] The Hindi version of the song was also sampled by Ciara for her 2009 song "Turntables", featuring Chris Brown.

Further reading


External links

Preceded by
Bandit Queen
Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie
Succeeded by


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