Never did we think we would miss the crowd and chaos of Mumbai. But the lockdown has given us a chance to look at the city afresh. It’s also given us a chance to step back and enjoy the roles the city has played on screen. Here’s a pick of our favourite shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar:
Catch Mumbai in these movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and YouTube
The Lunchbox (Netflix)
Featuring Mumbai’s indispensable dabbawalas, this is the story of an unexpected friendship between a lonely housewife and an older man. Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is trying to get her neglectful husband’s attention through her cooking. Hoping to win him over, she prepares a special meal to be delivered to him at work. It ends up with his colleague, Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a widower and sets off a sequence of events that ties in two lonesome individuals who long for company in this city of millions.
Dhobi Ghat (Netflix)
Lives of four very dissimilar people cross: a dhobi with Bollywood dreams, an artist looking for inspiration, an investment banker pursuing his passion for photography, and a newly-married immigrant who captures her experiences on video. There’s a fifth character, like director Kiran Rao says: Mumbai itself. Dhobi Ghat is the story of how different aspects of the city come together in different circumstances.
Gully Boy (Amazon Prime Video)
Murad (Ranveer Singh) is a closet rapper from the slums of Dharavi. Things change dramatically when he meets local star MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi). The two set out to make music that makes Dharavi mainstream. Also featuring the delightful Alia Bhatt as Safina, the movie is loosely based on the lives of Mumbai rappers Divine and Naezy, and brings to the fore a throbbing subculture.
Mumbai Meri Jaan (Netflix)
Mumbai Meri Jaan captures the 2006 train bombings through the stories of five characters: Suresh (Kay Kay Menon) who develops a deep suspicion for a community; Rupali (Soha Ali Khan), a reporter who loses her fiancé to the blasts; Nikhil (Madhavan) an expectant father who struggles with PTSD; Thomas (Irrfan Khan) who finds his own deviant way of coping with the blasts; and Sunil (Vijay Maurya), a policeman who struggles to deal with the complex system of law-enforcement.
102 Not Out (Amazon Prime Video)
102 Not Out is a riot of emotions, starring not one but two legends: Amitabh Bachchan, as a 102-year-old who lives life to the fullest and wants to earn the record of being the oldest man alive; and Rishi Kapoor, his grumpy 75-year-old son. Watch this one for some iconic Mumbai sights, including the best possible view of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Marine Drive, Mount Mary Church, City Bakery and Juhu’s Aeroplane Garden.
Wake Up Sid (Netflix)
Sidharth Mehra (Ranbir Kapoor), a slacker with a passion only for photography, leaves home after a series of altercations with his father. Enter Aisha Bannerjee (Konkana Sen Sharma), an ambitious woman from Kolkata who arrives in Mumbai to realise her dreams as a writer. They cross paths on Aisha’s first day in the city and a friendship begins. Sidharth eventually gets his act together, giving us some beautiful shots of Mumbai along the way.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (YouTube)
It’s the story of Vinod (Naseeruddin Shah) and Sudhir (Ravi Baswani), two friends trying to start their own photo studio. They are commissioned by an investigative magazine Khabardar to dig up the dubious dealings between municipal commissioner D’Mello (Satish Shah) and property builder Tarneja (Pankaj Kapoor). The third party involved is Tarneja’s biggest rival, Ahuja (Om Puri), another builder. A murder, a lost corpse and a chase make up the rest of the fun plot, shot in a Bombay before it became Mumbai.
O Kadhal Kanmani (Hotstar)
Carefree Adhi (Dulquer Salmaan) meets cheerful Tara (Nithya Menen) at a wedding, and the two fall in love. Of the host of things they have in common, they bond most over their hatred of marriage and soon move in together. Directed and produced by Mani Ratnam, OK Kanmani (English subtitles available) is centered around the modern-day idea of love pitted against ambition and other complications. While the movie doesn’t feature Mumbai’s landscape as extensively, it captures the spirit of the city and is beautifully shot, with plenty of screentime for its two lifelines: BEST buses and local trains.
Bombay is based on the real-life story of a couple who had an inter-faith marriage and their struggles during the riots in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. Clubbed with soulful soundtracks by AR Rahman, the movie is intensely emotional. Much of it has been shot on sets, but you do get a sense of the city and its famously secular character.
Tu Hai Mera Sunday (Hotstar)
Tu Hai Mera Sunday is the heartwarming tale of five thirty-something friends struggling to find a place in Mumbai where they can play football in peace. A light-hearted rom-com, it follows their lives as they try to escape the chaos of everyday life.
Photograph (Amazon Prime Video)
This rom-com is one beautiful ode to Mumbai. It follows struggling street photographer Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who convinces Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) to pretend to be his fiancee so his grandmother stops pressuring him to get married. Luckily enough, the two eventually develop a bond.
A gritty film that takes you back to the 90s when gangwars and contract killings were the order of the day. Satya follows Satya Chakravarthy, an immigrant who comes to the city looking for a job, finds a friend in Bhiku Mhatre, a local goon, and is subsequently drawn into the Mumbai underworld.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMLdEV-k5zw
Dombivali Fast (Amazon Prime Video)
Frustrated with the corruption and injustice he faces in everyday life, Madhav Apte (Sandeep Kulkarni) reaches his breaking point and turns into a vigilante to set Mumbai right. Director Nishikanth Kamath’s story of a middle-class man who rages against the system picked up several awards.
Salaam Bombay! (YouTube)
Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! traces the daily lives of the children of the slums of Mumbai (then Bombay). Told through the eyes of a young boy, it depicts the woeful world of drugs, thievery and prostitution, things no child should be exposed to. The movie won national awards and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvokHYSKre4
Lalbaug Parel (Hotstar)
Directed by Mahesh Manjerekar, the film portrays the life of Mumbai’s mill workers after the Bombay Textile Strike in the early 1980s. Released in Hindi as City of Gold, the movie exposes the collusion between businesses, politicians and trade union leaders and the injustice meted out to mill workers.
A 10-year-old gets kidnapped while out with her father. Much to his disdain, her policeman stepfather steps in for the investigation, and the two go on to try to one-up the other, all the while accusing each other of her kidnapping. Ugly was shot entirely in the suburbs of Mumbai as writer-director Anurag Kashyap and cinematographer Dibakar Banerjee wanted to depict the city’s constricted spaces, including the neighbourhood of Bandra.
Vaastav: The Reality (YouTube)
‘The Reality’ in the movie’s tagline refers to the sordid realities of the Mumbai underworld. Raghu (Sanjay Dutt) is a simple man from a Mumbai chawl who gets dragged into the underworld when he and his best friend accidentally kill a mobster’s brother and later the mobster himself. Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, the movie won Dutt his only Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvrzr2qxRzw
Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (Netflix)
Starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee, this crime thriller tells the story of inspector Surjan Shekhawat. Not only is he investigating a high-profile murder case but is also dealing with his crumbling marriage and battling demons from his past. Watch it not just for the gripping storyline, but for the myriad set of typically Mumbai characters he navigates as he searches for answers.
Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that take you around Mumbai
Breathe (Amazon Prime Video)
The Madhavan-starrer asks just one question: how far will you go to protect the one you love? It’s the tale of a desperate father who resorts to murder to save his dying son in need of new lungs. The series has Mumbai lurking as a background character throughout–look out for some popular sights, as well as local favourites like the Bandra Art Gallery.
Sacred Games (Netflix)
Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), an officer of the Mumbai Police, follows an anonymous tip in the hope of nabbing powerful mobster Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). As he goes on a chase around Mumbai, it emerges that the stakes are much larger and there’s a bigger game at play. Watch for some powerful performances by Khan and Siddiqui and, of course, glimpses of Mumbai.