The Sound of Mumbai

Children from a Mumbai slum rehearse for the chance of a lifetime

Directed by Sarah McCarthy

The Sound of Music, with its imagery of mountains and edelweiss, may not seem like a natural fit for India’s Maximum City, but the Bombay Chamber Orchestra begs to differ. Recruiting kids from the slums – home to half the city’s population – the Orchestra sets out to stage a choral performance of the Rogers & Hammerstein score. In capturing the process, The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical overflows with emotion. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve previously embraced or resisted The Sound of Music, after this rendition your association will never be the same.

At the center of the story is eleven-year-old Ashish, whose wide smile and optimism defy his family’s constricted slum shelter. He admits to lacking confidence as he copies out in his notebook “I will not be self-conscious.” His natural charisma suggests that he could go far if given the right opportunity. Now he’s tasked to perform a solo piece from The Sound of Music at Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, normally inaccessible to the poor. He can’t help but attach dreams to the event; he hopes to win the affections of an upper-class girl and inspire a patron to sponsor his education. With so many hopes riding on this single performance, the stakes are high for everyone, and viewers are pulled straight into the excitement.

Emerging documentary talent Sarah McCarthy marvelously conveys the timeless and international appeal of tunes such as “Do, Re Mi” and “My Favorite Things.” For Ashish, songs like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” or “I Have Confidence” speak directly to his experience. Even in his urban landscape, he can associate with the will to “Climb ev’ry mountain, ford ev’ry stream / Follow ev’ry rainbow, ’til you find your dream.” In telling this story, McCarthy remains mindful of the gaps that lie between dreams and reality, rich and poor. The film never glosses over the difficulty of closing those gaps, but it joyfully expresses the effort of attempting.


“Craftily balances inspirational uplift with clear-eyed pragmatism”  Variety

“A ‘sleeper’ hit”  Screen Daily

“Emotional and Impactful” The Star


Official Selection, Real to Reel Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, Miami International Film Festival