People from different parts of the country and the world come to Mumbai with stars in their eyes, chasing dreams. Some want to be a part of Bollywood, others want to get a glimpse of it up close. For many such tinsel town aspirants, a night tour organised by Bollywood Tours provides a peek into the glitzy world of film studios. The tour programme was started in 2012, keeping in mind the time constraints of tourists and locals alike. “A lot of people who take the night tour have odd flight or work timings. Some people fly in for a day for work, and attend the tour at night,” said Jitin Gopal, founder of Bollywood Tours. Another reason for starting a night tour was Mumbai’s charm after dusk. “Places like Fort and Marine Drive have a different glamour altogether at night that one can’t get during the daytime,” said Gopal.
Gopal said that Hollywood organises its own tours, but they aren’t allowed to visit live sets. “In Hollywood, you can visit previously used sets, like Terminator at the Universal Studious. However, here we have the opportunity to view a live shooting of a production which is rare to find,” said Gopal. The trip includes a visit to either R K studios in Chembur or S J Studios in Andheri (East), dinner and a nightclub visit in South Mumbai. On some occasions, tourists get the opportunity to record their music in one of the professional studios and even try on outfits used in movies. On a single trip, anywhere between one to twelve people take the tour. “Most guests request for Indian food. Some of them wish to eat street food instead of the hotels we made reservations for them at,” said Sufiyan Mansuri, a senior guide.
“The most memorable tour was when we attended Shah Rukh Khan’s shoot,” said Mansuri. About 90 per cent guests are foreign nationals. Each day’s itinerary is fixed according to what the guests want, according to Mansuri. The guests give their preferences at the time of booking and the necessary destinations are booked. The primary language for the tours is English. However, Mansuri has picked up common phrases in various European languages over the years to facilitate a smoother exchange with his guests. A single trip costs Rs 11,500 to Rs 14,000 per person. “Exploring Bollywood after my work timings seems like a great idea, but the price is a little too steep for me,” said Chetan Deshpande, a chartered accountant.
It hardly comes as a surprise that most tourists are foreign nationals. More than 95 per cent guests are either NRIs or foreigners, according to Mansuri. “We were taken to a few studios and Bollywood stars’ residences. Bandra felt like Beverly Hills! I also went to a recording studio and recorded my own song — it was a quite a nice experience,” said Helena Dorcas, who was visiting the city from Greece.