Mar 10 2016

5 things you might not know about Mani Ratnam's Bombay

by   Sonal Pandya

Ratnam's love story set amongst the 1993 communal riots that seized the city is still as powerful as it was when it released over 20 years ago, during a time before Bombay became Mumbai.


Initially, Mani Ratnam thought of casting actors Vikram and Manisha Koirala in the lead roles. Ratnam held a photo shoot for a look test with the two actors but ultimately decided not to go with Vikram, who was on a break between films and had long hair and a beard. Mani Ratnam need someone with shorter hair and a moustache and ended up going with his Thalapathi (1991) and Roja (1992) actor, Arvind Swamy, for the role of Shekhar.


Ratnam's casting choices for the roles of Shekhar and Shaila Banu's fathers were also very deliberate. Nassar, who is a Muslim, played Shekhar's father while Kitty, a Hindu, played Shaila's father.


A majority of the film was actually shot on sets in Chennai. Director Mani Ratnam claimed it was impossible to shoot Bombay in the film capital of India, Mumbai, as the budget for the multilingual feature was quite small.


In the Tamil version of Bombay (1995), A.R. Rahman first sang a full song, 'Humma Humma', by himself. Reportedly, Rahman was very self-conscious of singing the song to Mani Ratnam that he performed the song in the studio without any lights on. Remo Fernandes sung the Hindi version of 'Humma Humma'. Previously, he sang with Suresh Peters and Shahul Hameed on 'Urvashi, Urvashi' in Humse Hai Muqabala (1994) and on 'Chhoti Si Asha' with Minmini for Roja (1992).


The award-winning score by AR Rahman was heralded around the world. It became one of the highest-selling feature film soundtracks in India and was even featured in The Guardian's list of 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die, which singled out the exquisitely sung 'Kehna Hi Kya' by Chithra and Rahman.