It portrays in a phenomenal way the enormous social, cultural and moral complexities of Mumbai that owes its growth to a dehumanizing urbanization to the detriment of a countryside abandoned by feudal laws that affect thousands of people. Mumbai is one of the great icons of savage capitalism that destroys the hopes of living in the place of origin, to transfer them to inhuman work for the benefit of the great elites.
The question is: does Ghulam ever leave his village? Sure, he travels to the city, gets shown around. He even finds a job. But you never see him being absorbed in the social tissue of Mumbai. Although Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" (two years earlier than this) is a totally different movie, Travis copes with the same problem - alienation - as Ghulam.
A possible influence on Nair's realist work in its portrayal of people's entrapped hopes in a chaotic metropolis. The visual metaphor of 'screen' recurs with moderation and emotional force but it is put to brilliant use in the diegetic/non-diegetic analogy between the cracked window in the train compartment and the film's credits. The gulf between home and exile is movingly captured in all shots of the divine Patil.
How ironic the movie at a time when migrants are going back to their villages - not sure they’d reach or... A movie that moves you. The music deepens the impact. Farooq and Smita were Godsend. Wish Muzaffar Ali had made more than just the three films he did. It’s the story of all of us. We can’t go back to where we know it’s better.