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The Courtesans of Bombay / Street Musician of Bombay [The Merchant Ivory Collection]
The Courtesans of Bombay / Street Musician of Bombay
The Merchant Ivory Collection
Actors: Saeed Jaffrey, Zohra Segal, Kareem Samar, Richard Robbins
Directors: Richard Robbins, Ismail Merchant
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2005     2hr 5min

Intriguing, colorful, and revealing, The Courtesans of Bombay is Merchant Ivory's docu-drama about Pavan Pool, the enclosed area where Bombay's singing and dancing courtesans ply their trade. It presents a portrait of the ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Saeed Jaffrey, Zohra Segal, Kareem Samar, Richard Robbins
Directors: Richard Robbins, Ismail Merchant
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Studio: Home Vision Entertainment (Merchant Ivory)
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/19/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/1983
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/1983
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Not Your Typical Merchant Ivory
Carl West | Falls Church, VA United States | 10/30/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"First of all, I approached `Courtesans of Bombay' thinking that it was a fictional drama. I was looking forward to a typically sensitive Merchant Ivory treatment of the subject of prostitution. Actually, `Courtesans' is a straight documentary film. It does, however, work well as such. The film is narrated by three residents of Pavanpul, who could very well be actors. They provide the back-up for the succession of images that show the typical events of the courtesans' lives. The courtesans themselves are quite exotic and intriguing. The real treat of the film is the courtesans' dancing, particulary the scenes of them with their dance instructors.I still would have preferred a drama, as a drama could have achieved much more with the subject matter than a factual documentary. However, the film does draw you in and keep you interested throughout."
BOMBAY (MUMBAI) BEFORE AIDS
Timothy C. Wingate | Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA | 04/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"My copy of "The Courtesans of Bombay" also included a short film - about 55 minutes - entitled "The Musicians of Bombay" and both were fascinating for those of us who have been to Bombay and India in general. They are both quite exquisitely written and directed and really catch the flavour and sights and smells of Bombay.

These films were made before the epidemic of AIDS and it is sad, especially in "The Courtesans of Bombay" to see these courtesans/prostitutes plying their trade unaware of the future horrors that will await them.

There is also an interesting section in "Courtesans" where eunuchs attend and entertain at a celebration of a new birth to an upper middle-class family and one of the more vociferous and outspoken of the ladies (?) explains how it is a "God-given" privilege to choose to become a eunuch and undergo that drastic and sometims deadly operation. "She" seems to protests too much but the whole group of them seem to be happy and appear to be somewhat affluent in their attire and gold jewellery.

"The Musicians of Bombay" is a welcome addition to this DVD and for students of Indian music - that is, street musicians - the variety of instruments and languages and vocal traditions is truly fascinating. It begins with a fantastic shot of the "Gateway to India" monumental monument as seen from an hotel room and this same monument to the British Raj was very effectively used in David Lean's "A Passage to India" when the new Vice-Roy arrives in all his splendour and arrogance.

In "Courtesans" it is good to see actors of the calibre of Saeed Jaffrey and Zohra Sehgal - who both appeared in "Passage to India" - the latter portraying Lady lilli Chatterjee - and Jaffrey's portrayal as a self-absorbed, alcoholic, family-neglecting lecher is very well-acted indeed.

If you are students of India and one of the most populous cities in the world, viewing "Courtesans" and "Musicians" will be an edifying experience.

TIMOTHY WINGATE Ottawa CANADA"
Informative, entertaining and educational
Carl West | 01/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"An excellent film portrait of the area of Bombay known as Pavanpul"
A Look at, a past time, in India.
Christian J. Lafaurie | 03/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The whole Merchant of Ivory series is good for its education value, as far as entertainment, I find them slow."