10 Bollywood Films Offer A Primer To Life In Mumbai

© Lata Mohan
© Lata Mohan
Photo of Sucheta Thakur
14 December 2016

Mumbai is home to Bollywood, India’s Hindi film industry. It derives its name from the combination of Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hollywood. It is one of the largest producers of movies on an annual basis, with a thousand movies on average made every year.

With its origins dating back to 1913, Bollywood has been making films across various genres, topics, and locations, and there is no way in which they could leave behind the city of their origins in its movies. Portraying the multiple faces of the city in an almost realistic manner, Bollywood is known to re-create situations that have occurred and bring them to the masses. Here’s a random selection.

Wake Up Sid

Director: Ayan Mukehrjee

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma, Supriya Pathak, Anupam Kher

Released in 2009, this movie revolves around the life and struggles of two individuals trying to make a mark for themselves in the city: one is a rich brat born and bred in Mumbai who is compelled to leave his luxurious life, and the second is a level-headed girl trying to be independent. Truly defining life in Mumbai, the movie is what college students and recent graduates can very easily relate to as most of them do go through a similar struggle in life.

Shor in the City

Director: Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru

Cast: Sendhil Ramamurthy, Tushar Kapoor, Nikhil Dwivedi, Preeti Desai and Radhika Apte

Released in 2011, Shor in the City is about three sets of individuals with sky-high ambitions that they want to achieve, by hook or by crook (literally). Set during the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, Shor in the City is a brilliant film with a story that takes you on a roller coaster ride, coupled with breathtaking performances that leave you overwhelmed.


Director: Mani Ratnam

Cast: Arvind Swamy, Manisha Koirala

Released in 1995, Bombay is based on the real-life story of a couple who had an inter-faith marriage, the struggles they faced during the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid riots in Mumbai, and how they survived.

Salaam Bombay!

Director: Mira Nair

Cast: Shafiq Syed, Hansa Vithal, Chnada Sharma

Released in 1988, Salaam Bombay! is the story of a young lad, Krishna, who is abandoned at the circus by his mother and his quest to earn INR 500 so that his mother takes him back – this takes him to Bombay. Highlighting the struggles and hardships of life on the roads of Bombay, Salaam Bombay! is a critically acclaimed movie that earned an Oscar nomination and is also listed under “The 1000 Best Movies Ever Made” by The New York Times.

Chandni Bar

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar

Cast: Tabu, Atul Kulkarni, Rajpal Yadav

Released in 2001, Chandni Bar revolves around the life of a poor orphan who gets into the world of prostitution, drugs and alcohol to survive life in Mumbai. Portraying the ruthlessness of life in the city, Chandni Bar throws light onto the lives of Bar Dancers (now extinct) in Mumbai.

Page 3

Director: Madhur Bhandarkar

Cast: Konkona Sen Sharma, Atul Kulkarni, Sandhya Mridul

Released in 2005, Page 3 highlights the negative side of the social life of the filthy rich in Mumbai: the parties, the sexual exploitation, the short-lived marriages, the suicides, the need to be famous overnight – all this and so much more.

Black Friday

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Pavan Malhotra, Aditya Srivastava

Released in 2004, Black Friday is a presentation of the 1993 bomb blasts that wrecked Mumbai, the aftermath of the blasts and how the lives of people associated with the case were affected.


Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Cast: Paresh Rawal, Urmila Matondkar, J. D. Chakravarthy

Released in 1998, the story of Satya highlights the life of an innocent individual who has been wrongly convicted and how he ends up as part of the underworld in Mumbai during his journey to prove his innocence.


Director: Sudhir Mishra

Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Pramod Bala, Shabana Azmi

This 1992 movie revolves around the life of a couple living in Asia’s largest slum and the realistic take on the daily struggles that people living in the slums face.

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