Bollywood films that delved into Mumbai's murky underbelly

mid-day 36th anniversary specialMumbai is known by a lot of clichés — Maximum City, the city of dreams, the city that never sleeps and of course, as India's film capital. Filmmakers often look to this pulsating city for inspiration. If the '70s and '80s era of Bollywood was all about classic Mumbai, the '90s went beyond its razzmatazz and explored its underbelly. We list some films that took a cue from the city's not-so-glamourous layers...

'Salaam Bombay'
Salaam Bombay

Released: 1988
Lowdown: A bold foray into Mumbai's dark underbelly, the Mira Nair movie explored the life of street children in the city and was centered on the red-light area of Grant Road. It won the National Award for the best Hindi feature film.


Released: 1992
Lowdown: The movie, helmed by Sudhir Mishra, was named after the world's biggest stretch of slums where many people live in abject poverty and destitute conditions. The story revolved around a cabbie living miserably in a Dharavi room with his wife. It was a fine example of desperation, disillusionment and the dream of becoming big.


Released: 1998
Lowdown: Ram Gopal Verma's film offered a grisly look at the city's underbelly, narrating the story of Satya, an immigrant who comes to Mumbai to try his luck but instead gets sucked into the underworld. It is said that the film's cinematographer would roam around filming the city even when no shoot was scheduled. The chase sequence through the slums of Mumbai was greatly appreciated.

'Shootout At Lokhandwala'
Shootout At Lokhandwala

Released: 2007
Lowdown: The infamous shootout in the Mumbai suburb was captured in this film directed by Apurva Lakhia. The incident took place in 1991 — an encounter between an army of 400 policemen and about five gangsters. Dreaded don Maya Dolas was killed in the gun battle. The film highlighted the city's most notorious places.

'Black Friday'
Black Friday

Released: 2007
Lowdown: Anurag Kashyap's directorial debut was about the 1993 bombings, with details borrowed from S Hussain Zaidi's book of the same name. The film highlighted areas like Mahim, Bhendi Bazar among others where the bombings took place. The controversial docu-drama was released after facing a ban from the Censor Board for two years.


Released: 2008
Lowdown: The story revolved around a young doctor (Rajeev Khandelwal), who returns to Mumbai from London and is blackmailed by terrorists into blowing up the city. The film, directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, was mostly shot on Mumbai streets of Dongri and Bhendi Bazar.

'Slumdog Millionaire'
Slumdog Millionaire

Released: 2008
Lowdown: Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning saga about a boy from the Dharavi slums who goes on to win Rs 20 million in a quiz show has gone down in history as one of the best films depicting Mumbai's underground. The film won eight Academy Awards.

'Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai'
Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai

Released: 2010
Lowdown: Set in the Mumbai of the '70s, the film depicted the growth of underworld from crime and smuggling in its early stages to its connection with international terrorism in recent times. The film showcased streets of Dongri and Byculla.

'City of Gold'
City of Gold

Released: 2010
Lowdown: This Mahesh Manjrekar-directed film was centered around Mumbai's textile mills that closed down due to land deals and how the workers' lives were affected to such an extent that they took to crime. The film was entirely shot in Lalbaug and Parel areas showcasing their struggle for survival.

'Dhobi Ghat'
Dhobi Ghat

Released: 2011
Lowdown: The film directed by Kiran Rao was mostly shot in the famous Dhobi Ghat in Mahalaxmi, often touted as the world's biggest outdoor laundry. The movie was based on an artist (Monica Dogra) who falls in love with a young dhobi (Prateik). While shooting, Aamir Khan, who played a pivotal role, stayed in the vicinity of Dhobi Ghat to get into the skin of his character.

'Shootout At Wadala'
Shootout At Wadala

Released: 2013
Lowdown: It was the prequel to the 2007 film 'Shootout at Lokhandwala', and was based on the book Dongri to Dubai. The film was extensively shot in Dongri, Wadala, Bhendi Bazar, etc—basically, places that used to be known for its underworld connections.

Click here for mid-day 36th anniversary special

You May Like



    Leave a Reply