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Mumbai: Cinema and the City

Mumbai: Cinema and the City

The entity of the city, as a space that forms and shapes the lives of its inhabitants, is one of cinema’s great perennial themes, appearing in early silent films through the city symphonies of the 1920s and well into the 21st century. At times, it can even gain an active role in the story itself, playing as an added character that looms at each end of the frame.

As part of this series, we spotlight movies where Mumbai—the second most populous city in India, and one at the heart of Bollywood’s thriving film industry—takes center stage. Living on the margins of society, the characters we encounter are often found striving for a better life, disconnected from yet merged with the urban landscape around them.

NASEEM

Saeed Akhtar Mirza India, 1995

The delicate relationship between a teenage Muslim girl and her ailing grandfather reveals the melancholic story of an increasingly volatile fabric of Indian society. A deep sense of foreboding comes alive in this brave political film set against the backdrop of communal conflict in Mumbai of 1992.

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GAMAN

Muzaffar Ali India, 1978

Portraying the myriad of different universes that exists within a metropolis, Gaman is a poetic essay about the anguish of a dreamer seeking a better life away from his rural home. Capturing Mumbai through rich vignettes and a pointed gaze, the film questions the existence of humanity in the city.

SALIM LANGDE PE MAT RO

Saeed Akhtar Mirza India, 1989

Set in a ghetto of Mumbai, Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro is a fearlessly honest portrayal of the economic disparity and socio-cultural deprivation that defines the existence and lives of people living there. One of rare films addressing the complex predicaments of urban Muslims in India.