This Article is From Mar 12, 2010

Mumbai's mills: Once lost, now found on film

Mumbai: The once-prosperous mill district of Mumbai covered now by malls and high rises.  That's the subject of director Mahesh Manjrekar's new Hindi film, City of Gold.

Like all stories that work best, this is one he knows well. He grew up not far from the mills and saw thousands of families deal with jobs lost overnight as mills were shut down in rapid succession.

It was 1982 and the mill strikes wiped out a whole community, and its unique lifestyle.

''I have seen how helpless the workers were and how they could do nothing to fight the system,'' says Manjrekar.

Manjarekar's film zooms in on the politics, the trade unions, and the strikes.

The hero of his film, Ankush Choudhary, drew upon his own experience. His father was a time-keeper in New City Mill. He was among those left jobless when the mills started closing down. Ankush grew up in Girangaon, a village near the mills. ''For me, it's as if I am reliving those times. I remember Sunday afternoons, the aroma of fish or mutton curry in the chawl. That was the day we had a decent meal," he recalls.

Manjrekar says Ankush's real-life experience is not a happy coincidence. "Where else will you get that look? The fire in the eyes? It has to be someone who has been through the struggle."

The movie releases in April.