Mumbai is the center of India's booming "Bollywood" film industry. Over 100 films are produced each year there. It's possible to take a Bollywood tour to the heart of the action in Film City. If you'd rather be in a Bollywood extra in a movie than simply see the set of one, that's possible too. Here's how.
What and Where is Mumbai Film City?
Film City was built by the Maharashtra state government in 1978 to help the Bollywood film industry and provide facilities for it to flourish.
The sprawling complex covers nearly 350 acres and comes fully equipped with almost 20 indoor studios, as well as outdoor settings for filming. Film City is located in the western Mumbai suburb of Goregaon -- in the vicinity of the secluded and lush Aarey Colony on the outskirts of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It's easily accessible from the Western Expressway. Unfortunately, Mumbai Film City isn't open for public admission unless special prior approval is obtained. However, it is possible to take a guided tour there.
Options for Guided Bollywood Tours
The official tour of Film City is a two hour guided bus tour, operated by Mumbai Film City Tours in conjunction with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation. The tour visits various locations in Film City. If you're keen on seeing a live shooting, you could be disappointed though. You may be lucky to get a glimpse from the bus if there's one happening.
(You're not allowed to get off the bus, which is a drawback). There are six tours per day, as follows: 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m., 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 4.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. The cost is 599 rupees per person for Indians. Foreigners can go on the tour but the cost is an expensive $48 per person.
Mumbai Film City Tours also offer studio tours that take place outside Film City.
- Dream Tour -- focuses on post-production, and goes behind the scenes to a dubbing studio and singing studio. There are three tours per day: 1.00 p.m. to 3.00 p.m., 3.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m., and 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. The cost is 599 rupees for Indians and $16 for foreigners. Bookings can be made here.
- Live Show Tour -- focuses on live shooting of a TV show, and visits the set. You'll be able to see the actors working on the set and have your picture taken with them. There are two tours per day: 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m., and 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. The cost is 1,600 rupees for Indians and $38 for foreigners. Bookings can be made here.
- Cost Saver Combination Tour -- this is a combination of both the Film City Tour and the Dream Tour. The cost is 1,300 rupees for Indians and $50 for foreigners. Bookings can be made here.
- Half Day Bollywood Tour (by request) -- this is a combination of the Film City Tour and Live Show tour, and includes lunch. The cost is 2,000 rupees per person for Indians, and 5,200 rupees per person for foreigners.
- Full Day Bollywood Tour (by request) -- this combines all three tours (Film City, Dream Tour and Live Show), and includes lunch. The cost is 5,600 rupees per person for Indians, and 7,000 rupees per person for foreigners.
There are a few private tour operators that provide dedicated Bollywood tours. These are comprehensive tours that cater predominately to foreigners.
One of the best is Bollywood Tours, which was established in 2003. Their full-day Film City and Bollywood Tour also includes a drive past Bollywood stars' homes and a visit to a shooting studio (as well as the two hour Film City bus tour mentioned above). The company also offers full-day Bollywood Tours and half-day Bollywood Tours that visit shooting studios, a dubbing studio, and include a Bollywood dance show and drive past stars' homes. The Bollywood Tours can be combined with Dharavi slum or city sightseeing. The cost ranges from around $160 to $210 per person, depending on tour type and number of people.
No Footprints also offers this fun half-day Mumbai Dream Tour that incorporates Bollywood dance workshop, short screening of a Bollywood movie, visit to a film studio to see a live shoot, and visit to a sound recording studio.
Film Cities in Other Locations
Film cities can also be found in Noida (not far from Delhi), Hyderabad, and Chennai. Noida Film City has over 25 acres of indoor and is used mostly for making TV serials, news, and current affairs programs. Chennai Film City is home to the Tamil movie industry. The public can enter for a small fee, and there's an amusement park to keep the kids entertained. Hyderabad's Ramoji Film City is a huge tourist destination spread over 2,500 acres. It boasts of being the world's largest production complex and it's possible to take a special tour.
How to Be a Bollywood Extra
If you'd rather be in a Bollywood movie than simply see the set of one, that's possible too. Foreigners are always in demand to be extras in Bollywood movies. The easiest way to make it happen is to hang around Colaba Causeway in Mumbai, particularly in the area around Leopold's Cafe, and you're sure to be approached to be an extra. If that fails, and you really must be an extra, try contacting casting agent Imran Giles of Casting Planet on 98199-46742 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Expect long hours, lots of waiting, and pay of up to 1,000 rupees per day.
If you can't take a tour or be an extra but still want to see what it's like on the set of a Bollywood movie, check out these behind the scenes Bollywood photos from the filming of Jab We Met (2007) in Himachal Pradesh.