Mumbai Memoir 46- Mumbai dreams through Bollywood!
Mumbai is referred as the ‘city of dreams’. The opportunities that the city offers are enormous, especially for the ones who are ready to strive hard & know how to make the best of the city’s resources. Crowned as the ‘financial capital of India’, besides the corporate growth, the city is witnessing the growth of the booming film industry which is popularly called as- Bollywood!
During the 1970s, the name Bollywood was coined on the lines of the word Hollywood, by the Mumbai (then Bombay) press circle. It is a collective reference given to the Hindi film industry, which is set in Mumbai. What started as a local casual tag, has now become a global brand as Bollywood is considered to be the largest film producing industry of the world!
Bollywood cinema has been a part of Mumbai’s culture. Huge colourful film posters decorate most of the city’s façades. Radio & television channels play Bollywood songs 24/7 & one can see multiplex cinema theatres sprawling all over the town. Mumbai’kars, make weekend plans to escape into the fantasy world that the filmmakers present on the silver screen.
It also acts like a catharsis for many who identify with the powerful hero of the film, or admire the grandeur shown on ‘reel life’. Over the years, Bollywood has created its own unique entertaining value not just for Mumbai’kars but also for world-wide film audience, who love the drama, songs, fantasy, romance & ‘larger than life’ element shown in most of the Hindi films.
Since 1913, the industry has grown in leaps and bound, when the very first full length film was indigenously created in Mumbai by Dada Saheb Phalke. Inspired by the films created by Lumiere Brothers, Phalke very passionately created India’s first silent film titled ‘Raja Harishchandra’. It was a great commercial hit which encouraged other Indian film makers to create more films thereafter. Here’s a video series highlighting the history of Indian cinema: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gmYNvdSkfk Today per year, more than 1000 films are released in Bollywood as compared to approximately 500 films produced in Hollywood. The content of Bollywood and Hollywood films massively differ, but both have made their unique mark as they have evolved over the years. Passionate filmmakers of bygone era, like V.Shantaram, Raj Kapoor & Gurudutt introduced Bollywood internationally.
Even today 27 films from Prabhat Film Company, created by V.Shantaram are archived at the library of University of Chicago’s film school and are regularly shown to aspiring film making students there! Prabhat’s ‘Sant Tukaram’ (a biopic on Marathi St. Tukaram) won the title of one of the Best feature films at the Venice International Film Festival way back in 1937! Raj Kapoor’s ‘Awaara’ (1951) rocked Russia when it was pompously released there. Over the years epic Bollywood films like, Pyaasa, Devdas, Moghul-e-azam, Mother India, Sholay etc have created lasting impressions on the minds of Hindi cinema buffs. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15oZOKLpjf4
Off late Bollywood films have achieved commercial success beyond imagination. Mumbai’kars wait for the releases of big blockbusters during festive occasions. Such block busters have the potentials to achieve 100 crore target at the box office!! Here’s a trailer of a recent Bollywood film named ‘Bajirao Mastani’ (a fictional historical epic drama): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHOc-4D7MjY Dadasaheb Phalke thus is known as the ‘Father of Indian cinema’, who through his determination and dedication, laid the foundation of a billion-dollar industry today.
Like any common Mumbai’kar, I too am a film buff. My fascination for cinema started since my teenage. I remember spending half my pocket money on hiring a movie from a nearby video library on a daily basis! It was literally one film a day back then! The rest half of my pocket money was spent on film magazines which had glossy photographs of Bollywood stars and news about their upcoming block busters. Like any ‘star struck’ teenager would go about, I remember writing letters to film stars about my fascination towards them and my feedback about their just released movies. To my surprise I also have received letters & glamourous photographs from the offices of few of the stars to whom I had written!
Recently I got to know about a ‘Bollywood Dream Tour’ organized by MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation). I immediately booked my tickets and took up a tour of Mumbai’s Film City (Goregaon) along with my brother who was on his yearly vacation recently. The first half of the Bollywood dream tour was exploring the film city’s outdoor locations. Our tour guide informed us about all the possible films shoots that had taken place at different locations around. The post lunch session was exploring the post production process of film making. We were taken indoors into a studio to explore the music, dubbing and foley recording process of films. http://www.mumbaifilmcitytours.com/N/Index.aspx
Mumbai’s film city was established in 1977 by the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Maharashtra. In 2001 it was renamed as ‘Dada Saheb Phalke Chitranagari’ to acknowledge the pioneering work of the ‘Father of Indian Cinema’. Sprawling over a massive 438 acres it is one of the largest cinema studio complexes in India. Most of the Bollywood film shootings occur here. It was nice to see the real locations which I had once seen on celluloid. More on film city: http://filmcitymumbai.org/index.html
My overall fascination for cinema has grown stronger over the years. Besides Bollywood cinema, I equally enjoy Indian regional cinema & world cinema. I believe, besides its entertainment value, cinema also has educational value for me. Being a writer myself, there is so much to learn from even a badly made film! Besides being actively involved in documentary film writing since a decade I have micro-financed two short films till now.
A recent short film that my ‘School of Emotional Intelligence’ has sponsored, is titled as ‘Full Stop’. It carries a social message of how inability to manage negative emotions and lack of healthy communication among family members may lead to extreme actions. Though there are more milestones to achieve on my journey of life, as of now, it’s a great high for me to see my personal transformation from a teenage film buff into a documentary film writer & now a film producer in my own small way! Bollywood is often mocked for its ‘larger than life’ film treatments, but I guess the same ‘larger than life’ Bollywood movies sub-consciously have inspired me to dream big and like me, many Mumbaikars too, who are in the process of transforming their personal dreams into reality!
Photo credits: Shraddha. Sankulkar, Siddhesh Sankulkar and free internet sources.