Kali salwaar

Fareeda Mehta

Colourful film version of a forbidden story about the feelings of an Indian prostitute in the lively slums of Bombay. Filled with references to Indian and Western film, poetry and other arts.

Sultana, a prostitute from a small India town, moves with her pimp/husband to the metropolis Bombay. She is completely overwhelmed by the hectic city and it is almost impossible for her to get enough customers. Her pimp tries several jobs, but has no success and turns to religion. Flat broke, Sultana remains behind. Her greatest desire, to wear a black salwaar during the month of mourning, would seem out of reach.Fareeda Mehta brings the characters, sounds and colours of the slums of Bombay to life in Kali salwaar. The sets are as lively as street life itself, with great emphasis on colour schemes. Based on primary colours, they change from earthy tints to more synthetic colours, ending in black, the colour of the salwaar Sultana so yearns to wear.The script is based on several stories by Saadat Hasan Manto, a wellknown writer who also shows up in the film as a character. His 'Kali salwaar' was banned in India because of the allegedly obscene message of the story that is largely about the feelings of a prostitute and about sexual power and oppression. In addition to this literary background, Kali salwaar is full of references to poetry, painting, music and western and Indian film.

More information

Fareeda Mehta
Production country & year
India - 2001
113 min
International premiere
Praveen Kumar
Screen play
Fareeda Mehta, based on works of Saadat Hasan Manto
Surekha Sikri, Sadiya Siddiqui, Irfan Khan, Jeetu Shastri, Vrajesh Hirjee
Avijit Mukul Kishore
Aseem Sinha
Production design
Bhupen Khakhar
Sound design
Namita Naik
Ved Nair