Mumbai. Not just a city but living emotion. A sensory experience that beats in tune with the heart of every Mumbaikar. Being an outsider, I always watched Mumbai in movies with all the cliches like flying pigeons at the Gateway of India or the slums of Dharavi or the ubiquitous Ganesh Visarjan and Ganpati pandals. There was even an era where Bollywood films only featured the crimes and underworld of Mumbai.
However, Mumbai is more than that!
Mumbai is like a kaleidoscope that takes on a different look every time you turn the angle. Fortunately, a few filmmakers agree and create stellar masterpieces that bring the Mumbai-ness of Mumbai on to the screen. Here are some that resonated with me.
Packed with suspense, drama and tragedy and (spoiler alert) a dead Kareena Kapoor, Reema Kagti’s Talaash is the perfect portrayal of the darker greys of Mumbai. Shot in non-glam locations such as Charni Road, Lower Parel, Grant Road and Central Bombay with Worli Seaface the primary character in the movie, Talaash manages to capture the aura of Mumbai perfectly.
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa
Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Naa is a movie that reminds us of our long lost best friend. Movies will come and go, but Meow and Rat’s love story will always stay close to our – ok, my – heart.
One thing this movie captures brilliantly is the director’s love for Mumbai. Shot at different locations like Marine Drive, Bandra Fort and the streets of south Mumbai, Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Naa makes every Mumbaikar say, ‘Hey, this used to be where we hung out too!’
Taxi No. 9211
Milan Luthria beautifully pictures triumph over desperation in this movie. A series of hilarious events take place when a super-rich spoilt brat encounters an eccentric taxi driver. Nana Patekar’s acting skills were never in question, but in this movie, John Abraham steals the show.
The movie showcases streets of Mumbai as the Taxi No. 9211 travels around town. However, we see more Mumbai in the characters than the locations. The anxiety felt during traffic hours, the shame of a failed career, the hunger to be rich and the anxiety of an ordinary housewife- through the movie we experience the emotional struggles of being a Mumbaikar.
Lage Raho Munnabhai
Munnabhai, everyone’s favourite goon. Lage Raho Munnabhai is the second instalment in the Munnabhai series. Munna falls in love with a radio jockey, Jahnavi and in his pursuit of her heart lies that he is an expert on Mahatma Gandhi. The movie is a rollercoaster of an adventure that carries the audience through Munna’s transformation.
Rajkumar Hirani has perfected the use of locations to create authenticity on the screen. He used this technique to produce the same magic in Lage Raho Munnabhai. The film is full of unique Mumbai-ness and features iconic locations around Mumbai like Dhobi Ghat, Nariman Point and Elphinstone Technical School.
Wake Up Sid
Wake Up Sid is a story of every outsider struggling to find his or her place in the world. Being an outsider, Wake Up Sid is my personal favourite. This movie features the Mumbai that welcomes everyone warmly. Though the movie is about Sid’s journey, I love watching Aisha more. Aisha is just like every small towner, who sees Mumbai as a place where dreams come true. She comes to Mumbai to establish herself as a serious journalist. On her way to make it big, she helps Sid find his place in life.
We see the youthful, carefree and free spirit of Mumbai beautifully blended with passion and dedication in this movie. The movie is all about how Aisha and Sid finally find a place for themselves in the rush of Mumbai.
The last scene of this movie is extraordinary. Shot at Nariman Point in the first rains of Mumbai, this scene makes every outsider believe that they will also find their place in Mumbai, just like Sid and Aisha.
Life In A Metro
If Mumbai is human, the local trains are her veins. Mumbai literally runs on the local trains. Every day there are thousands of stories that take birth and die in local trains. Life In A Metro is a screen portrayal of a few of those stories.
The movie features the silent emotional struggle of every person in Mumbai who tries to drink the bitterness of life with a smile. The movie is all about finding happiness against all the odds. There are many scenes from the local trains, on stations and even in traffic. The story of nine different people from different background makes us cry and laugh and smile, all at once sometimes.
Mumbai belongs to everyone who breathes along with this city. It is the city of Richie Riches, and at the same time, it belongs to street rats. Traffic Signal is the story of those who make their home in the streets of Mumbai. Madhur Bhandarkar made this “masterpiece” about beggars and small vendors in Mumbai before he made Fashion. Spoiler alert: the scene where a beggar watches a movie in multiplex along with the one who gave him that money is hilarious.
So this was my list where I discovered Mumbai more than any tour guide! Which are your favourite movies to discover Mumbai with? Let us know in the comments.
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