A kind of Indian Pixote about kids living on the sidewalks of Bombay utilizing their wits, the story [by Mira Nair and Sooni Taraporevala] evolves around a young boy, Krishna, who leaves his home village, kicked out by his family who suspects him unjustly of stealing money.
He comes to the big city, hoping to make quickly the 500 rupees which would permit him to return home. Carrying tea in a Bombay slum for pimps and prostitutes, sleeping on a pile of rubble and learning the ways of the street and the means to survive, innocence gradually is beaten out of him by the circumstances.
Director Mira Nair, trained in America, is very much in control of her material, tells her story efficiently and has most of the cast, none of them real professionals, under total control. She indulges in some melodramatic explorations, however, dangerously verging on a romanticized Oriental tearjerker mood.
Superior camerawork and editing keep the story moving along briskly.