From Hollywood to Bollywood, Mumbai has had its fair share of time in the lime light. Mumbai has always been a potpourri of cultures as varied traditions, religions and touching narratives converge in this city of constant noise. Bollywood was born in Mumbai and has continued to thrive even today with energetic, colourful and passionate displays. However, even western cinema has had a taste of Mumbai, leaving it a city filled with theatrics and movie sets.
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is the face of Indian history in Mumbai. As one of the most important monuments in the city, not only does the Gateway draw in millions of tourists it also draws thousands of directors of both professional and amateur quality. The setting is a perfect picture of what visitors expect India to be. This picturesque market overlooks the Arabian Sea with lines of vendors peddling their wares and a unbreakable crowd to weave through. The Gateway of India has been featured in everything from historical epics to contemporary romances. It is not uncommon for visitors to spot cameras perched high, scanning the crowd for aerial shots. Fans of Bollywood films will immediately recall the market from the song sequences featured in movies like Ghanjini, Bombay, Kalyug, Hero No.1 and Mann.
As one of the biggest slums in the world, Dharavi manages to thrive on the pottery, textile and recycling industries in order to support the thousands of people that live within. Although Dharavi is more often featured in the news for its unhealthy environment and living conditions, its unique squalor has earned it a strong foothold in the film industry. Depicted in films such as Deewar, Salaam Bombay!, Dharavi Sarkar, Traffic Signal and Footpath has made it well known to Hindi cinema goers; however, it is infinitely more famous for its depiction in the Oscar-award winning 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire.
Beaches make for prime real estate in the film industry, and Mumbai has its fair share. While all beaches that skirt the shore around Mumbai have been featured in one movie or another, none more so than Juhu. Nestled among the most affluent and sophisticated areas of the city, Juhu Beach is a favourite among visitors and locals alike. The soothing and aesthetic appeal of the neighbourhood and the golden sand make it one of the most exploited film sets in Mumbai. Classic films such as CID, Anands and Seeta Aur Geeta have all been shot here; however, most visitors come for the natural beauty rather than its appeal as a movie set.
While the beaches of Mumbai are usually the first choice when it comes to a choice of seaside film set, for some movies a little bit more development is desired. To fill this void, the 3-kilometre long Marine Drive provides the perfect venue. This sprawling boulevard overlooking the Arabian Sea has quickly become a beloved shooting spot among the Hindi film industry. The palm trees that line the road, the colour of the sky at dusk and the constant fresh breeze all provide the perfect setting. While not often seen in Western films that travel to film in Mumbai, any Hindi movie goer will recognize the Marine Drive for the part it played in the superhit film Dhoom.
Both Hollywood and Bollywood movies take advantage of manufactured film sets to meet the unique needs of their movies as it can occasionally be problematic to close down beloved landmarks for the sake of film. However, the movie culture of India is so far ingrained in Mumbai that the city even dedicated a swathe of land to make film dreams come true. After all, it is hard to keep Mumbai locals out of many of the popular areas of the city. Film City has become the preferred choice of many of the city's film and TV show makers. This "mini city" is spread across 350 acres in the posh Goregaon area and is not completely unlike the film studios that dot Hollywood. Film City boasts 20 indoor studios and outdoor arrangements that cater to a number of settings. With gardens, lakes, forests, house, villages and even cities ripe for use as backdrops, most modern movies end up being shot in this compound.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
As one of the four World Heritage Sites in the Maharashtra state, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, or the CST as it is referred to for short, is renowned for being a railway station with the world's highest density of passengers. Naturally, as one of India's most busy railways, the CST makes for the perfect set when lead characters arrive in the city to follow their dreams, reunite with lost lovers or have an action-packed chase scene. Many scenes shot at the CST are mostly noted in passing, so many never really reveal in it as a movie set. However, a ride from the terminus where 6.3 million passengers are serviced each day is nothing short of an experience. Among the films that feature the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Slumdog Millionaire is the most famous.
Have you been to Mumbai? How did you find it? Vibrant, hectic, overwhelming or wonderful?
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