Phantom India: Bombay
1969, France, Louis Malle, 52 min.
In Presentation with the Criterion Collection
Free to Members
The 1969 documentary Phantom India is Louis Malle’s seven-part portrait of India. It serves as an investigation into the country’s sociopolitical landscape, traditions, and people, as well as a furthering Malle’s self-discovery as a non-fiction filmmaker.
In the concluding, seventh episode, Louis Malle, Jean-Claude Laureux and Etienne Becker reach one of India's most populous cities - that of Bombay - and chart the many colorful facets of this metropolis with their cameras.
The episode opens with discussion of the city's geographic locale, moves in for a glimpse of Muslim craftsmen hard at work, visits the blind muezzin and witnesses the daily pilgrimage to the Haji Ali Mosque at low tide. A visit to Bombay's petrochemical plants and red-light district follows; Malle highlights the irony that alcohol is forbidden in this city, according to Muslim law, but prostitution widely encouraged. The film then segues into a glimpse of the Bombay stock exchange, with its striking resemblance to the floor of the NYSE in Manhattan.
Post-screening discussion with Beth Citron