Salaam Bombay

Mirabia Production (India)

Mira Nair belongs to a rising generation of women who are not necessarily making “women's films,” but still reflect female sensibility in their work. Indian-born and Harvard-educated, Nair is attracted to outsiders living on the margins of society, yearning to establish a “home.”

Nair's debut, “Salaam Bombay!”, which won the 1988 Cannes Camera d'Or, is a powerful expose of homeless children. For her second film, Mississippi Masala, Nair chose a spicy interracial romance in the Deep South. The Perez Family chronicles the entangled lives of Cuban immigrants as they try to forge new existence in Miami.

Nair grew up in a small town in the Indian state of Orissa, where she later worked as an actress. In 1976, she went to Harvard as an undergraduate and discovered filmmaking, which led to a number of documentaries dealing with Indian society. Her short, India Cabaret (l985), a portrait of strippers in a Bombay nightclub, won international recognition.

Galvanizing critics, “Salaam Bombay!” depicted the harrowing experience of one boy among Bombay's thieves, prostitutes and drug dealers.  Inspired by a host of classic children pictures, including Vittorio De Sica' “Shoeshine,” Hector Babenco's “Pixote,” and the early work of her compatriot Satyajit Ray, the film drew its intensity and color from its locale, the slums of Bombay. Despite its documentary feel, “Salaam Bombay!” was a slicker and more poised film than her next effort, “Mississippi Masala,” starring Denzel Washington.


Oscar Alert


Oscar Nominations: 1


Foreign Language Film


Oscar Awards: None


Oscar Context:


In 1988, the Danish movie, “Pelle the Conqueror,” won the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar.