Like most new, hesitant migrants Bandra was my first love when I moved to Bombay. In this fascinating, bustling, intimidating (more so because I came from the humble Caluctta) city, I was lucky to find a 200 sq.ft. room (plus balcony!) in Mrs Tipnins’ apartment overlooking the Bandra gymkhana. Walking around aimlessly on Carter road, haggling on Hill road, spending a whole afternoon at the Crossword on Turner road and sitting for long hours dreaming on Bandstand became my favourite ‘me’ times.
Bandstand I thought and still believe epitomises, Mumbai’s title: ‘city of dreams’ like no other place and Bollywood plays the protagonist or at least the sidekick in all Bombay dreams.
If the dream is not to become the next SRK, it is to just see him once. Till then, feel closer to the demigod by knowing someone whose neighbour knows SRK’s driver’s uncle.
No wonder, at 7 am in the morning a bus full of tourists pauses outside the bungalows of all Bollywood actors along Bandstand and then parks opposite Mannat, the most important landmark. The anxious smile on all faces when they get off the bus gets brighter as they get the first glance and then a closer view. They always try their luck and ask the brawny guards if there is a chance of meeting the legend. Some climb the roof of the bus in the hope that they may at least see his shadow.
Though, I was very upset when I first saw Mannat as a part of the customary celebrity-house-spotting tour in Bandra. I was told SRK lived in the house from my childhood-favourite movie, Mr India! but this fortress seemed far away from that. I couldn’t imagine a fly entering this house, let alone a football breaking its glass pane!
The recently established Bollywood ‘Walk Of The Stars’ on the promenade with autographs and palm impressions of the Superstars from yesteryears did not impress me much as it replicates the original Walk Of Fame on Hollywood boulevard exactly. However, it does add filminess!
So, whether you are a closet fan of Bollywood or admittedly filmy, I suggest go spend sometime here. Sit on the benches wondering what ‘actually‘ happens inside these Bollywood homes. Else, think about the film story idea you have always had. Bounce it off Raj Kapoor, maybe?
The best time to go is in the mornings. Unless you enjoy watching couples vying for hidden spots.