5 Foreign Filmmakers who made Movies based on Mumbai

As Iranian filmmaker Majidi’s Beyond the Clouds releases this year, I began to wonder how many directors have captured Mumbai through their lens. There are very few yet notable ones. So, let’s find out the five foreign filmmakers who made movies based on Mumbai in their distinctive way.

1-Danny Boyle :

Slumdog Millionaire is one of the most successful films based in Mumbai. It also pocketed eight Oscar awards and is considered to be the most successful movie based on Mumbai. Danny Boyle gave the co-direction credit to Loveleen Tandan, but the film had the Boyle stamp all over. One can’t ignore Anthony Dod Mantle’s brilliant camera work. No one ever captured the frenzied pace of Mumbai to its truest best. The graphic dutch angled frames, edgy editing, fierce characters will be etched in our minds forever. Slumdog Millionaire used unique filmmaking techniques, and to my memory, no one made Mumbai look so different and real as Danny Boyle. The film launched the careers of Dev Patel and Freida Pinto.

If you want to read the shooting script, Get it here on Amazon → Shooting Script of Slumdog Millionaire.

2. Mira Nair:

Mira Nair is a foreign filmmaker in my eyes as she is studied films in Harvard and is presently based in New York. Salaam Bombay was nominated for Oscar and was one of the best films made on the life on the streets of Mumbai ( then Bombay) theme. The film is shot on real locations under shoestring budget. The main leads were picked from the streets of Mumbai and supported by renowned actors like Nana Patekar, Raghubeer Yadav and Anita Kanwar.

The film was produced by Mira Nair and her ex-husband Mitch Epstein. Sandi Sissel breathtakingly captured the city and written by Sooni Taraporevala.

Pic of Sandi Sissel by Sooni Taraporevala

3. Zafar Hai:

Zafar Hai made Perfect Murder under the Merchant-Ivory Banner based on a Swedish Forensic expert working with Mumbai cop Inspector Ghote to solve the murder of a Parmi man called Perfect. Stellan Skarsgard and Naseeruddin Shah played the respective characters. The film also featured the late Amjad Khan.


I remember this film for its beautiful cinematography. Though the movie was average, maybe a one time watch, its visuals may remain with yourself forever. It was due to Walter Lassaly’s great camerawork. He passed away last October.

4. Majid Majidi:

Beyond the Clouds reminds me of Zafar Hai’s and Mira Nair’s work. Somehow foreign filmmakers’ take on Mumbai is distinctly different from the Bollywood filmmakers.

Majidi’s film looks edgy though it has an Indian cinematographer Anil Mehta helming the camera. It marks the debut of Shahid Kapoor’s half-brother Ishan Khattar. The film releases his year. I had to include his movie on this list as the idea of this article came from his trailer.

5. Michael Winterbottom:

Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna was partially shot in Mumbai. It had Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed. The film was mostly based in Rajasthan and had a part shot in Mumbai.

Photo: Wikipedia

The film was a forgettable affair. It made news for the lovemaking scene of Freida Pinto. Marcel Zyskind shot the movie and Mumbai look nothing different from any usual Bollywood filmmakers.

Brad Bird’s Mission impossible 4: Ghost Protocol had some scenes in Mumbai. But, it was too inconsequential to add to the list. Mumbai missed out on the greatest ever film made on it when the producers shelved the idea. It was “Shantaram” starring Johnny Depp. It was to be directed by Mira Nair again.

If I missed out on any names, please feel free to add it to the list by commenting below. I will give your credit to the list. Thanks.