Early Familial Politics in Bombay

To me, one of the intriguing scenes in Bombay is the very first, where we are introduced to Shehkar and his father. I find it particularly interesting for a number of reasons. It follows the scene where Shehkar first sees Shaila, where they lock eyes, thus foreshadowing their upcoming relationship. Flashing to Shehkar’s family having dinner, the internal politics of the film are established. Throughout the films we’ve watched thus far, coming of age and marriage are consistent themes. Shekhar’s father is against the idea of him moving to Bombay to be a journalist. Moreover, he is opposed to the idea of his son marrying someone outside their community. The director is quite explicit in laying this framework early on, as it sets up the tension in the film.

His father has delivered the notion of their imagined community, which pinpoints strong opposition against those outside. As we later find out that Shaila is muslim, the stakes of the politics increase exponentially. She is the demonized “other”, which is common rhetoric in the division of Nationalism and Orientalism. It’s one thing for him to end up marrying a member outside of their community,  but for it to be a muslim, in his father’s eyes, is a mortal sin.


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