Culture + Style

Wannabe a Star? 5 Ways to Make Your Bollywood Dreams Come True in Mumbai

As the headquarters of India’s billion-dollar Hindi film industry, Mumbai is India’s very own Tinseltown. The city’s film studios produce more than half of India’s TV shows and feature films. Home to top celebrities, struggling hopefuls and masses of dedicated fans, Bollywood is the common thread that binds the city of millions.

As a traveler in the city, here’s how to get your dose of Bollywood culture.

Tour a Film Studio

Get a look at what goes on behind the Bollywood scenes on a guided tour of the Filmcity, Mumbai studio complex. Set up by the state government in the ’70s, the studio complex provides all the facilities needed by the film industry.

The expansive space in Goregaon features elaborate sets, lush outdoor spaces, and studios. Tour the complex’s many filming locations, visit sets, see what goes into post-production and, if you’re lucky, catch a live TV show or movie filming.

Visit Iconic Movie Locations

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Relive the memories of “Slumdog Millionaire’s grand finale. (Photo: Getty Images)

Remember the dance sequence at the end of “Slumdog Millionaire”? The memorable scene set to the tune of ‘Jai Ho’ was filmed at the ornately Victorian Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus — an iconic South Mumbai train station.

Several Mumbai locations feature prominently in Hindi cinema. Probably the most recognizable of these is Marine Drive, where many a romantic liaison has been filmed at the gorgeous curved promenade along the Arabian Sea.

Take a Tour to Star Homes

Mumbai’s auto rickshaw drivers often double up as intrepid guides. Keen to show off their city’s best and brightest, they’ll happily lead you on an on-the-fly tour of Bollywood stars’ houses.

Hop into a characteristic black-and-yellow “auto” in the hip neighborhood of Bandra, home to Bollywood superstars such as Shah Rukh Khan. Eager to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, there’s always a gaggle of fans gathered outside his palatial, sea-facing home, called “Mannat,” at Bandra Bandstand.

Amble along the breezy Bandstand Promenade for some sea breezes. Carry on further to the upscale residential area of Juhu, home a clutch of movie stars. Catch a glimpse of Indian cinema icon Amitabh Bachchan on Sundays, when he steps out of his grand Juhu home “Jalsa” to greet gathered crowds.

Watch a Bollywood film

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Not a star? At least get to watch them on the big screen. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eye-popping costumes, energetic dance sequences, heightened drama and colorful plot twists liberally peppered with catchy songs are the essential ingredients of a Bollywood blockbuster hit.

The first step to understanding Mumbai’s film culture is to watch a star-studded, action-packed flick — even better if you manage to score first-day, first-show tickets to an eagerly anticipated chart-topper. These sell out much in advance and run to packed theaters. Book tickets at an iconic film theater, like the art deco–style Regal Cinema in Colaba, to watch a true-blue Bollywood film with the locals.

Go Celebrity Spotting

Locals flock to Juhu Beach to watch the waves and snack on street food, but it’s not uncommon to often see resident Bollywood stars on their daily runs. Nearby, the iconic Prithvi Theatre often plays host to movie stars — both on and off stage.

Set up in the ’70s by film-industry stalwart Shashi Kapoor, the buzzing space is the nexus of Mumbai’s theater circuit, with regular festivals and events. Prithvi stages elaborate productions featuring movie stars such as Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin, making it a great spot to experience Mumbai’s arts scene and spot celebrities on the stage and in the audience.