Musicians of Bombay
Richard Robbins's film documentary, Street Musicians of Bombay, came about as the result of an incident that occurred while he was staying at the Taj Mahal hotel in the cosmopolitan center of Bombay. He woke one morning to hear singing in the street below; going to the window, he saw two street musicians, a leper couple, singing a duet of almost unearthly beauty. Fascinated, he conceived the idea of making a documentary about Bombay's street performers of various kinds, but chiefly musicians (vocal and instrumental) who live by meager handouts. In a larger sense, the film would document the street life of the city. He began shooting scenes in 1986, returned in 1991-92 to shoot others, and finished work in 1993. Filming in the heart of Bombay presented special problems for the sound recordist since traffic was dense and noisy, many vehicles having no mufflers or exhaust systems. Usually Robbins took the performers he selected to a quieter neighborhood, but there, too, shooting could be stressful; hearing that a movie was being made, people would put down whatever they were doing and come in great numbers to watch. Sometimes these crowds became part of the film, as spectators watching the performers in the street, who often interacted with them.