‘Salaam Bombay’: Bollywood’s romance with city of dreams continues

By Robin Bansal, IANS
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NEW DELHI - Mumbai with its varied faces - slums cheek by jowl with skyscrapers, page 3 celebrities, underworld dons, the wide expanse of sea - has always captivated filmmakers and many have painted different portraits of the Maximum City in their films. The latest is debutante director Kiran Rao’s “Dhobi Ghat” and 2011 will see quite a few films dwelling on the multi-hued megapolis.

Besides “Dhobi Ghat”, the year will see other films based on India’s commercial capital - Sudhir Mishra’s “Tera Kya Hoga Johnny”, Anurag Kashyap’s “That Girl In Yellow Boots”, Ram Gopal Varma’s “Department” and “The Business Man”, Ankush Bhatt’s “Bhindi Bazar INC”, Sanjay Singh Mastan’s “Mumbai Chakachak” and Ekta Kapoor’ “Shorr”.

“Mumbai is one of the cities in India that offers one a chance and lets one be what one wants to be. I have a fascination for the city. I adore it and love it. I have an affection for that place. You can smell it in my work. I have always made films that revolve around Mumbai and its spirit,” filmmaker Sudhir Mishra told IANS.

Mishra’s has profoundly explored the city through films like “Dharavi”, “Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi” and “Chameli”. His long delayed “Tera Kya Hoga Johnny” too is about the city and the director describes it as “an insider’s tribute to the city”.

Filmmakers have regularly drawn inspiration from the movie capital of the country and woven its myriad moods in the form of big screen odes and anthologies to compliment its complexity and never-die spirit.

Director Aman Mihani’s attempt to lay bare the soul of the city for a bunch of immigrants in “Mumbai Mast Kallander”, which released last Friday, was a failed attempt. The movie sank without a trace.

But expectations are high from Aamir Khan’s wife Kiran Rao’s directorial debut “Dhobi Ghat”, which focuses on various aspects of the city through four different characters.

“‘Dhobi Ghat’ describes the city of Mumbai as intricate and vast that is so difficult to explain it actually in a really accurate and poetic way,” debutante actress Monica Dogra from the movie told IANS.

There are many more filmmakers ready to show the city in different light such as avantgarde filmmaker Anurag Kashyap who has movies like “That Girl In Yellow Boots” and Danny Boyle produced trilogy “Bombay Velvet” in the offing. He also has to his credit the critically-acclaimed commercial documentation of Mumbai bomb blasts in “Black Friday”.

Set during the Ganpati festival, Ekta Kapoor’s “Shorr” is a gritty, funny composite of Mumbai inspired from various daily newspaper stories while “Bhindi Bazaar” sheds light on the pickpockets in the city.

In the past different directors highlighted different aspects of the metropolis with their enchanting scripts.

If Guru Dutt’s “Kagaz Ke Phool” (1959) and Zoya Akhtar’s “Luck By Chance” (2009) put the spotlight on the glitz, glamour and the dark side of the film industry that has lured thousands to the city, Raj Kapoor’s “Jaagte Raho” (1956) and Anurag Basu’s “Life… In A Metro” (2007) showed life and its challenges across different strata of the city.

Different facets of the city have been explored in movies like “Gateway of India” (1957), “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” (1958), “Salaam Bombay!” (1988), “Parinda” (1989), “Sadak” (1991), “Bombay” (1995), “Traffic Signal” (2007), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), “Aamir” (2008) and “Tum Mile” (2009), etc.

Multi-tasking filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, known for his glorification of Mumbai hoodlums and its crime, focused on the city’s underworld with Indian gangster trilogy “Satya”, “D” and “Company” before exploring a bit futher with “Sarkar” and “Sarkar Raj”. The director has two other outings “Department” and “The Business Man” peeping into the city’s crime nexus.

“Bombay as a theme binds all communities and religions together. People from all across the country come to this city with aspirations and most of them realise it. Bombay is a metaphor for success,” film historian SMM Ausaja told IANS.

“Bombay is also the centre of film industry and filmmakers definitely want to pay an ode to the city as it has so much to offer. The biggest reason is that Bombay has an universal appeal. It is the quintessential cosmopolitan city,” he added.

Call it utopia, muse or the city that never sleeps, whoever comes here stays here. After all “Ye hai Bombay meri jaan”.

(Robin Bansal can be contacted at robin.b@ians.in)

Filed under: Bollywood, Movies

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