MUMBAI IS ONE OF INDIA’S BEST shopping destinations. Large malls, department stores and exclusive boutiques stocking international brand names, coexist with traditional bazaars and pavement stalls selling everything from diamonds to dentures. Mumble also has a vibrant nightlife, with more discotheques and pubs than any other Indian city. As the home of the Hindi film industry, Bollywood, Mumbai often holds gala premiere nights at its many cinema halls. The city’s crowded cultural calendar also includes several concerts, exhibitions, theatre shows and festivals. But perhaps the best entertainment the city offers is the non-stop circus on its bustling streets and sidewalks.
FILM CITY TOURS
BUILT IN 1978 to meet the needs of Mumbai’s booming Hindi film industry, better known as Hollywood Film City sprawls over 140 ha (346 acres) in the city’s northern outskirts. Bollywood produces some 120 feature films a year, making it the world’s largest film industry, rivalled only by South India’s Telugu and Tamil film industries. Film City is where many Hollywood blockbusters are shot, as are most TV soaps and serials. Song-and-dance routines, scenes of tear-jerking melodrama and action-packed fight sequences take place simultaneously on Film City’s dozen shooting stages, against outsize backdrops of medieval forts, dense jungles and opulent cardboard palaces. In between takes, mythological heroes rub shoulders with rifle-toting bandits and skimpily clad vamps.
SOUTH MUMBAI ‘S main shopsping areas include Colaba Causeway, Kemp’s Corner, and the shopping arcade in the Oberoi Hotel at Nariman Point. The traditional market for fresh produce is Crawford Market while Bhuleshwar and Kalbadevi, north of the Fort area, are popular haunts for textiles and jewellery. Crossroads, a large new shopping mall, has come up in central Mumbai, close to the Haji Alai Mosque.
ANTIQUES AND JEWELLRY
A FASCINATING place for antiques is Chor Bazaar or “Thieves’ Market” near Crawford Market. This warren of shops is crammed with colonial furniture, Victorian bric-a-brac and Chinese porcelain, along with a lot of junk and fakes. Very good bargains can still be found here. Phillips Antiques, on Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Chock , stocks a fine collection of old postcards, prints and Raj-era lithographs. There are strict rules, however, regarding the export of antiques. Central Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar is lined with jewellers’ shops, Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri being the most famous. Palazzo at the Crossroads Mall has dozens of jewellery stores under one roof, offering elegant, exclusive designs. The shopping arcades at the Obcroi and Taj Hotels are also good places to shop for jewellery.
TEXTILES AND FASHION
MUMBAI is a highly fashionconscious city and most Indian designers have outlets here. Among the more exclusive boutiques are Ensemble and Melange, while casual ready-made garments are available at Cotton World. Fantasia and Indian Textiles specialize in a wide range of traditional Indian textiles and weaves, including silk saris, home furnishings and accessories. For good quality handwoven home furnishings and floorcoverings, the best shop is Shyam Ahuja.
HANDICRAFTS AND GIFTS HANDICRAFTS
from all over Indian are available in Mumhai. The widest range and best quality can be found at the Cottage Industries Emporium, Contemporary Arts and Crafts and Bombay Store in the Fort area. Chimanlal’s has a good selection of handmade paper, while Inshallah maashallah stocks pure perfume essence (attar) in tiny glass bottles capturing the fragrances of rose, vetiver and jasmine. Mumhai is renowned for its high quality leather goods at reasonable prices. Rasulbhai Adamji at Colaba, Csango at Apollo Bunder, and many shops in the Oberoi Shopping Centre have a good range of jackets, handbags, wallets and luggage, some of it “inspired” by Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Joy Shoes at the Taj Hotel has high quality shoes and leather accessories. Books, CDs and audio cassettes of both Indian and Western music, are available at various outlets throughout the city, including hotel bookshops. However, one of the best shops for music is Rhythm House.
ENTERTAINMENT GUIDES, TICKETS AND VENUES
DAILY NEWSPAPERS list the day’s entertainment and events on their engagements page. Another good source of information is the magazine Discover Mumhai . A useful website which offers online information on cultural events and entertainment is wimexplocity.com Tickets for most concerts and plays can be bought at Rhythm House or at the venue itself. The major venues for Mumhai’s cultural events are the NCPA or the National Centre for the Performing Arts, the Nehru Centre auditorium and Shanmukhananda Hall. Prithvi Theatre in Juju is a lively centre for stage productions. Other active exhibition venues include the Jehangir Art Gallery, the NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art) and the Artists’ Centre, located at Kala Ghoda.
MUMBAI is a great centre of classical Indian music, and many well-known performers can be heard here. This cosmopolitan city also has many enthusiasts of jazz and Western classical music (conductor Zubin Mehta received his early training in Mumbai) and frequent concerts are held by both local and visiting international groups. Classical and folk dance performances from different parts of the country also feature regularly on the cultural calendar. Mumbai has a vibrant theatre tradition, with productions in English as well as Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi. These arc often staged in the open at Horniman Circle Gardens. The cultural high season is from November to April, though performances take place through the year.
AS THE CAPITAL of the Hindi film industry, Mumhai hosts a number of film-related events. Most of the film studios are located in the suburbs as are the private residences of most screen celebrities. Great fanfare precedes the release of bigbudget blockbusters, and glittering premieres are held at popular cinema halls such as Sterling, Regal and Metro. These draw star-struck Fans who spend hours standing outside, waiting for a glimpse of their favourite stars. Film festivals, documentary film screenings, lectures, talks and exhibitions are also held throughout the year at various venues, such as the British Council.
THE MAHARASHTRA Tourism Development Corporation (MTDG), offers guided tours of Mumbai on double-decker buses. Bombay Heritage Walks, organized by a group of young architects, take visitors through historical districts such as Banganga, Khotachiwadi and the Fort area, on weekends, except during the monsoon (June to September). Prior booking is necessary.
NIGHTCLUBS AND BARS
MUMBAI NIGHTLIFE id more active than that of any other Indian city. While nightclubs and bars open and close at regular intervals, some have remained consistently popular. One of the liveliest is Fire & Ice, ingeniously housed in a mill compound in Parel. In south Mumhai, NotJust Jazz by the Bay has live music Wednesday through Saturday. Most hotels have their own bars and nightclubs such as Infinity in the Taj and Opium Den in the Oberoi, both of which attract Bollywood’s A-list stars. Another favourite haunt of Mumbai’s jetset is Athena, one of the city’s trendiest new nightspots.