Mumbai: a walk for a hundred years of Bollywood
The largest film industry in the world is 100 years old. Bollywood cinema (word game between Hollywood and Mumbai, the old name of the city of Mumbai, its nerve center) has become a world reference to which the Cannes festival itself pays tribute in its 66th edition with the world premiere from "Bombay Talkies." For moviegoers or for those looking to discover the old colonial jewel of Bombay from another perspective, here is a unique and original tour of the city where the cinema is created that makes millions of Indians dream.
Excessive sets, most cloying love, musical numbers ... on paper, typically Bollywood cinema puts the creeps, but See one of these films in one of the cinemas of the Colaba area in MumbaiIt is a truly unique experience. People cry, laugh, hum the songs and most importantly, dream. This is for many the secret of the buoyant Indian film industry, making people forget their routine and miseries. Of course the formula works: in 2012 the record production figure was reached, more than 1500 movies shot and 3.3 billion tickets sold. In addition, Bollywood cinema is increasingly popular in Asia, Africa and North America. The icing on the cake of this centenary has undoubtedly been his special invitation at the Cannes Festival, which takes place these days: the appearance of the Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan together with DiCaprio himself at the opening session says it all. Bollywood at the same level as Hollywood.
But let's leave Old Europe and go where this effervescent and shining cinema is born, Bombay, where on May 3, 1913 the first Indian film in history was presented at the Coronation Cinema Hall: Raja Harishchandrto. To discover all the “bullfight” of Bollywood do not forget to follow these indications:
1) Attend a film session in one of the mythical cinemas of Mumbai
Get ready to spend up to three hours at the cinema but we assure you: you will not regret it. Going to the movies in Mumbai is an event, people bring food, sing and if you hurry, even dance. Only a small inconvenience, the movies are in Hindi without subtitles but given the obviousness of the situations it will not be difficult for you to follow the plot. The Regal or the Eros, both located in fantastic buildings of the 30s, are the best options.
Regal. Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Apollo Bunder. I sneaked in. Telephone: +91 (0) 22 22021017.
Eros. 42 Maharshi Karve Road, Churchgate. Telephone: +91 (0) 22 82 2335.
2) Become a Bollywood star
Well, not exactly. Actually your job will be to appear in one of the latest productions and dance a little in the background dressed in a low-cut evening dress (Only if you are a girl because if you are a boy do you dance with what you wear). But what does it matter when a filming session is experienced first-hand in one of the Mumbai studios and the day is shared with a panda of the most curious and out-of-date professional figurants.
Warning: this is an experience reserved only for the most intrepid. Glamor zero (although it may seem otherwise) and long hours of waiting in the studio (actually cement warehouse come to more) while you wait for your particular minute of glory. Of course, 100% guaranteed fun.
How to do it? In the Colaba neighborhood there are multiple figuration agencies hunting for western tourists. The more blond and looking guiri Be much better to be "discovered" by one of these "talent hunters." In any case ask at some of the hotels in the area and they will put you in touch with the right person. The work is paid symbolically with 500 rupees (around 10 euros), transportation and food included.
3) Tour the studios
If the sacrificed life of a figurant is not your thing, much better option is to visit the studies by the hand of a professional who will tell you all the secrets besides being able to attend a live shoot (comfortably seated). Tours from Rs 3,250 (about 65 euros) per person at Bollywood Tourism.
A woman walks in front of a movie poster © Corbis
4) Buy a movie (or a few)
Not to miss the Rythm House, a shop where you can find from the great black and white classics and blockbusters like Slumdog Millionaire. My favorite is Om Shanti Om, starring the charismatic Shahrukh Khan, a tribute to Indian cinema in a humorous way. Along Colaba Causeway you will find many shops and street stalls where you can also buy DVDs and posters of Indian films.
And of course after the cinema do not forget to walk through this wonderful city. This is our star tour:
Start in Colaba admiring the mythical Gate of India (built in 1911 on the occasion of the visit of King George II). Recréate with your view from the sealounge from the no less mythical Taj Mahal Hotel, and with a masala tea in front start to set you. Walk the streets dotted with colonial buildings to the Fort area where you can admire several of the landmarks of English architecture such as Victoria Terminus Station and the University of Bombay. The colorful crawford market (north of Fort) also deserves a raid. And at sunset go rickshaw up Chowpatty Beach, a meeting place for locals and see how it gets dark savoring a bhelpuri (typical snack).
The sealounge of the no less mythical Taj Mahal Hotel © Taj Mahal Hotel