The thing about Mumbai is, you either hate it with every fibre of your being, or you absolutely, irrevocably LOVE it from the bottom of your heart. There is no middle path. No comfort of ambivalence. You must have a strong opinion or perish in this pulsating, paradoxical, tireless city that I like to think of as the ultimate human experiment. Mumbai, meri jaan, is hard. It’s crowded, it’s crawling, it’s confusing, and it… stinks. A lot. Of sweat, and hard work, and restless dreams, mixed with paan and piss!
And yet, there’s also beauty hiding in plain sight everywhere you look. There’s beauty in the noisy flutter of the wings of the hundreds of pigeons that welcome weary travellers to the Gateway of India. It’s in the riot of colours that explode daily on Fashion Street, and Hill Road, and Linking Road. It’s in the quiet ripple of appreciation for artists in the many galleries that dot Kala Ghoda. And it’s in the strand of Bollywood that’s woven into the very DNA of Mumbaikars — whether their claim to the city is by birth or by love.
Mumbai. We call it the city of dreams, but it’s also the city that won’t let you sleep. Cooped up in my room for the past two months, I’ve never missed Mumbai (never mind its many warts!) more. So what does someone experiencing extreme pangs of longing for the city of their birth do? Turn to Bollywood, of course! So here are five Bollywood films that will take you on a nostalgia-filled trip down memory lane, in case you’re suffering from withdrawal symptoms too. You’re welcome.
1. Wake Up Sid
Besides Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma playing the pair that leads the story, this movie has another star character, and that's the city of Mumbai. From idyllic car rides through Marine Drive with friends to the simple act of sharing a moment of banter and tea while gazing at the Arabian sea, this film beautifully captures the ordinary moments of wonder Mumbai tends to surprise you with. Oh, and it also gives you a peek at what most residents deem their favourite thing about the city, monsoon rains in Mumbai.
Image Courtesy - Movie
Mani Ratnam's evergreen love story unfurls against a backdrop of a Bombay torn by the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid riots. Bombay does a fantastic job at capturing a city enveloped with the air of communal conflict and discord, and it's a movie you should watch if you want to look at Mumbai from a socially and historically conscious lens. Despite stirring a storm of controversy when it first released, Bombay is now looked at by residents of the City of Dreams, as an eloquent ode to the brutality Mumbai witnessed during the agitation.
Image Courtesy - Film Companion
3. Mumbai Meri Jaan
Another movie based on Mumbai that deals with heavy themes, Mumbai Meri Jaan gives you a brief glance at what was left of the lives of 5 ordinary people in the wake of the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, that claimed over 200 lives. This film leaves a deep impact with its portrayal of the devastation that this act of terror brought to the city and its residents. It goes beyond your usual socio-political debates surrounding the attack that forever changed the city and instead gives you an insider perspective on the ripples it created in ordinary lives.
Image Courtesy - Netflix
4. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Following the previous one up with something considerably lighter, this crowd-favourite rom-com prominently features some of the classic spots in the city of Mumbai. From the rich suburbs of South Bombay to Bandra Fort where Jai surprises Aditi with her kitten, the city serves as a whimsical background to the lead love story. Also, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na was one of the select few movies that showed us the Bandra Worli Sea Link before it was inaugurated!
Image Courtesy - YouTube
5. The Lunchbox
The beautiful epistolary relationship between the lead characters of this movie revolves around two of the most adored and crucial elements of living in Mumbai city. The first one being the Dabbawaalas in town who have been seamlessly feeding countless people trying to etch their name on the concrete of Mumbai. The second city lifeline featured in The Lunchbox is Mumbai's local trains. Without even trying, this movie captured the spirit of the city by the help of a few crafty scenes, and images Mumbaikars have grown up with.
Image Courtesy - The New York Times
Bombay isn't just a city, it's a world in itself. And one of these movies can be the gateway that lets you explore it all!