ND's Film World- Where the show begins.....
The Sunday began with the almost usual topic of discussion with my husband - What do we do today? And he replied in his usual style - no idea!!!! Which got me thinking, lets find a place to visit nearby by which we can come back home by early evening (by which time the Monday blues start to kick in :)). I suddenly remembered seeing a series of hoardings at the start of the Mumbai - Pune expressway, hoarding's vibrant in color showcasing our world of entertainment, of Bollywood - the 3rd religion of our country. The headlines of the hoardings said ND's Film World... our gateway to Bollywood. We decided that it was a nice way to spend the day and be back before my husband's so called 'blues' kicked in.
This film world is located on the way to Karjat/Matheran about 40 kms from Navi Mumbai. When you go through the expressway towards Khalapur, you come across an exit on the expressway which says towards Shedung/Rasayani. Take this exit and pay the toll of Rs 40 and head on the road towards the local toll which allows you to take a return ticket paying Rs 53, going on the old highway to Khopoli. 17 kms prior you see a left which will take you to Karjat/Matheran, which you take and about 3 - 4 kms you come to ND's Film World on the left side. How to know you have reached - simple you see a Mount Rushmoresque replica of faces where instead of 4 former US Presidents you see the faces of 5 Bollywood Heroes and Heroines (each.....).
Upon entering through the gate, you are greeted by huge statues of elephants greeting the visitors to this world. We bought our tickets in approx Rs. 1200/ per adult, and were greeted by Emran Haashmi..... ok ok his look alike who worked on weekends at the studio. He took us to the place where all films stars went prior to entering the studio - the Temple (which we must have seen in a gazillion movies). This was followed by a short preview of 15 minutes about the studio where we get to see Mansi Naik playing multiple roles showcasing all movies which have been shot there along with a brief on the studio. After this our visit began............................
Exiting the preview theater, we came to the Filmy Wall - a painted wall showcasing the beginning of the era by the real superstar of Bollywood - Shri Dadasaheb Phalke. The first movie which Indian cinema got was made by him and where he was the director, screenwriter, producer, editor phew....Whatta guy and that too in 1913!! This painting was followed by others such as Alam Ara - the first spoken movie moving through the centuries right upto 2010s.
Then we approached the entrance of the movie sets where a huge painting of Mr. Bachchan from Sholay waiting to hug us. Going though this entrance we were greeted by a shout - Tera kya hoga Kaalia!!.
We turned to see Gabbar walking towards us, his look scaring the daylights of my kid heh heh.. He explained to us the layout of the studio before we went further. The studio has been split into 6 parts called Reels.
Reel 1 - was what I have described above.
Reel 2 - Showcasing the old days of Mumbai
Reel 3 - Various viewing items
Reel 4 - Showing the extravagant princely sets in Bollywood
Reel 5 - Sets which had a Marathi background
Reel 6 - Sets which highlighted the glorious mid 60's era
Sorry, sorry... I am being vague in the details but I will share more details below. We moved towards a cafe thinking we could have a bite to eat but on entering we found ourselves in the film Parineeti where Rekha had sung the song - Kaisi Hain Yeh Paheli Zindagani. The same set had been used recently in a Song from movie named Sanju. Next to it was a jail where we spent sometime imaging the life of a kaidi (prisoners). Next to this jail was a Khau Galli a la Mumbai, only thing being very few items were on offer. But in the sweltering heat we found ice cream as a means of escape from it. Moving on from the Khau Galli we came to the Flora fountain in the middle of the road. Yes.. the exact replica of the one in Fort. On the left of the fountain were various shops which gave a feel of the 70's Mumbai.
Walking further we came into the movie - Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, specifically the title song. This covered the full Reel 2.
From Reel 2 we moved to Reel 6 where we ran into the greatest Mughal Emperor Akbar through the set of Jodhaa Akbar right from the courtyard where he had the battle with the elephant, to the sword fight of Jodhaa with her brother upto the courtyard where the great Emperor held his durbaar. We slipped into some costumes worn by the soldiers during that era. From here we moved to the set of the movie Mughal-e-Azam which was represented by the costliest set of the era - the Sheesh Mahal. Did you know that Sheesh Mahal cost Rs 15 lakhs in 1960 (Rs 10 crores in 2018) which was more than the cost of an entire movie at the time. Plus it took 2 years to complete. This replica really matched up to the original of 1960 and is probably the highlight of the tour. Outside of the Jodhaa Akbar fort was the Palace Hotel which was a place of stay for the actors and now has been converted into a place for guests to celebrate the events. There are a lot of statues of Hollywood superstars such as Jackie Chan, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Harry Potter, Michael Jackson etc...
Doing all this we were reminded by the staff that there was a Bollywood show at 2.30 and pushed us to have food before the show. I forgot to tell you that besides the Khau Galli, there is a restaurant - Sai Hotel which serves standard food for hungry visitors.
The Bollywood show was a spectacle of song and dance carried out by budding actors/dancers to peppy numbers hosted by a very brilliant compere (oops i forgot her name) who not only was a good singer but also an excellent mimicry artist. Here we saw Salman Khan (again lookalike) who set the floor on fire with his solo performance. The show ended with a medley from all artists.
By the time this was done, it was almost 4 pm and time to head back to Mumbai. We took the scenic route back to our car bidding good bye to the artists and guides along the way. Hopping into the car after taking some snaps of the outside, we headed home.
So if you have filmy "Kidaaaa" in you do visit this Bollywood Theme Park.....