Since Bollywood is located in Bombay, obviously many songs are shot in the studios here.
But there are some songs or situations that are so unique to the city that they simply could not have been picturized elsewhere. Either showcasing the sense of freedom or the seaside or the pressures of urban life or the dark underbelly, Bombay/ Mumbai is itself integral to the song.
Here is a first list of some favourites, old and new, with the madness, masti and magic of the city and its crazy inhabitants captured in these songs:
1. The classic tribute from the movie CID, picturized on Johnny Walker. (Sadly the first line Ae DIl Hai Mushkil has been used as the title for an incredibly idiotic movie made recently.) CID is a crime thriller starring Dev Anand and Shakila and also the debut film for Waheeda Rahman.
2. Madhubala and Bharat Bhushan in a thriller named Gateway of India. It has an intriguing story line “A young heiress, on the run from her murderous uncle, roams the streets of Bombay where she runs into a series of shady characters. To escape from them, she makes a rendezvous with all of them to meet her early next morning at the Gateway of India.”
3. Amitabh Bachchan in and as Don. In retrospect his character embodies the migrant workers who come to this city from UP ( and Bihar and elsewhere) to make a new life. The surma, the pan chewing the clothes.
4. Nana Patekar does a star turn in this blingy song from a super fun movie–Taxi no 9-2-11. It involves a taxi driver on the run from a passenger. While Nana Patekar is of course superlative, John Abraham has also done a decent job as the spoilt son of a businessman.
5. I have not seen Aap Ki Khatir but one song in it composed by Bappi Lahiri became so popular it completely eclipsed the movie.
6. Those were the days of charming movies with simple stories. Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman reminded me of the simplicity of the TV serial Nukkad. This charming song seems to be picturized in a proper chawl, probably a first since Sai Paranjpe’s movies.
7. Bombay to Goa–the anthem to eve teasing songs in which AB seemed to specialized in the 80s and 90s ( Jumma Chumma de de ?). It remains immensely popular even now and is guaranteed to get everyone on the dance floor !
8. Rangeela re-wrote Urmila’s career graph and also gave us a very different story. The film may not be seen as woman- centric, but it was really the character of Mili who defines the entire story. Her ambitions, her family, her friendships and eventually her choices.
9. This song is from one of my favourite movies–Jhankaar Beats. Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Rahul Bose and Rinke Khanna made for an unusual cast which worked really well ! Very urban professional characters, a sub plot around tributes to RD Burman , quotes from Sholay and a running gag around condoms made it a very unusual mainstream film in 2003. This song says aptly Bombay, Bambai, Mumbai may mein pagal ho gaya !
10. To end this list here is A.R. Rahman’s genius music from the movie Bombay.
The next list will be focussed on Marine Drive in Mumbai. Wait for it 🙂