You may have heard the name before, but did you know that India’s indigenous film industry is the largest in the world in terms of film production? On average, Bollywood churns out just under 364 feature films per year, accounting for a staggering 43% of the Indian box office revenue. Which is pretty impressive for a slate of films that barely makes an impression on the U.S.! In fact, Los Angeles has some competition on its hands: Bollywood was recently declared to be the largest film industry in the world in terms of tickets sold – over 300,000 more than its Hollywood counterpart.
So it’s clear that this Indian film thing is a pretty big deal, and its seat of power can be found in the beautiful city of Mumbai. The capital of Indian state Maharashtra is the most populous city in the country, and one with many charms. Any serious BUCKiTDREAMER should be looking to tick India off their traveling bucket list, and while you’re at it, you shouldn’t miss out on a trip to Bollywood’s headquarters. If you’re fanatical about cinema and haven’t gotten a chance to see how other countries approach the process, stay tuned to BUCKiTDREAM as we bring you the ultimate Bollywood guide to Mumbai!
Take a Trip to Film City The first place you want to hit up is the aptly named Film City, which was built by the government in 1978 to accommodate the burgeoning film industry. This impressive, sprawling compound includes a number of huge indoor studios and is spread out over 350 acres of land, encompassing the heart of Bollywood film production. It’s located in the western Mumbai suburb of Goregaon, which is easily accessible by public transport. Film City is not open to the public in a general sense, but you can take a guided tour with Mumbai Film City Tours and visit various locations within the complex. This six-hour tour is incredibly informative, taking in the process of getting a Bollywood film from script to screen, and showcasing plenty of behind-the-scenes insider secrets.
Try to be a Bollywood Extra If you’re not content with merely pursuing the sights and sounds of the local industry, you can always attempt to get yourself in a Bollywood film. Remember, hundreds are made every year, and production companies are always on the lookout for foreign extras to bolster the background ranks of their movies (as not all of them are set in India). The best place to try your luck is the area in and around Leopold’s Cafe, which is the setting for many a Bollywood scene. Hang around this part of town long enough and you’re sure to get approached sooner or later. It’s paid work and can be a fascinating process, but be prepared for long hours, and (as with any movie set) lots of waiting around.
Hang with the Stars Bollywood also has its own set of celebrities, with the city of Mumbai lighting up with star power wattage in much the same way Beverly Hills does when the American stars are out and about. Some of Mumbai’s known celebrity hangouts include the lush Mediterranean-inspired eatery Olive Bar and Kitchen, and Zenzi, an upper-class cultural hotspot in the trendy Bandra district. The Vie Deck and Lounge is another solid bet for Bollywood celeb sightings and features a seafood-centric menu paired with delicious cocktails and a beachside atmosphere. The hippest of Mumbai’s social scenes can be found in and around the artistic district of Kala Ghoda, home to the city’s Museum of Modern Art and some stunning street art from local creatives.
Other Mumbai Excursions On your downtime from a set, you could check out what the rest of the bustling metropolis of Mumbai has to offer (here’s a hint: it’s a lot). The city’s most famous landmark by far is the Taj Mahal Palace (not the actual Taj Mahal), a stunningly built hotel that you simply must get an Instagrammable snap of. A visit to Mumbai’s coolest shop, Kulture Shop, should also be on the cards; it features a spellbinding collection of graphic art from a large number of Indian artists and can be the source of beautiful mementos and gifts from your trip. The Gateway of India is another stunning landmark that demands a visit, while the Banganga Tank, a sacred ancient water tank said to have healing properties, provides a slice of Mumbai history in a still-bustling district.
India is a fascinating country with many cities worth visiting, Mumbai among them. The Bollywood scene is just one of many reasons to trek through this beautiful part of the world; so what are you waiting for? Hopefully, your trusty BUCKiTDREAM planner is crammed full of ideas for excursions and adventures by now, so the only thing left to do is book those flights and prepare to roll camera on your very own Bollywood adventure!