From larger than life stories to heartfelt tales, the Hindi film industry has often presented movies that managed to strike a chord with the audience, leave them in splits, or in some cases, take them back to the joy of cinema. 

And then there are certain gems where the movie was shot so beautifully that it organically captured the spirit of the city the story was set in. Movies such as these:

1. Wake Up Sid: Mumbai

Ayan Mukherji’s debut movie brought alive the magic of the city of rains and dreams. From Marine Drive evenings to neighbors who turn to friends in buildings, Wake Up Sid showcased the spirit of Mumbai – kept alive in rains, waves, and in the case of the movie, Aisha’s (Konkona Sen Sharma) love letter in the end. 


2. Delhi 6: Delhi

Multiple movies have tried to capture the bustling, ‘masala‘, at times ethnic, at times modern, but forever vibrant spirit of Delhi. But perhaps Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi-6 comes the closest. From the crowded corners of Chandni Chowk to the fast-paced metros and the heritage walks, Delhi-6 was a beautiful culmination of the modern and traditional Delhi. 

Bollywood Hungama

3. Kahaani and Piku: Kolkata 

Just like Delhi and Mumbai, Kolkata’s spirit is hard to capture in words or frames, and yet countless movies have tried. But both Kahaani and Piku managed to bring alive the city in their narratives, by making the city intrinsic to the story. And perhaps the best way to enjoy this city’s emotional spirit is by letting it envelop your characters and their journeys. 



4. Barfi!: Darjeeling

Hill stations and romance are Bollywood’s favorite plot points. But with Anurag Basu’s Barfi, it was Murphy “Barfi” Bahadur’s (Ranbir Kapoor) misadventures across the town that had us taking in the serenity of Darjeeling as well. Whether it was the cafes, the train rides, or the churches in the backdrop, Barfi! painted Darjeeling as the mystically beautiful city that it is. 


5. Masaan: Varanasi

Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan was a painfully honest portrayal of the transience of human life. And the expansive ghats of Varanasi were the perfect backdrop for expressing both, grief and relief. Just like its crowded roads became the ideal metaphor for hidden desires and secret burdens. The many shades of Varanasi were indeed a separate element of this moving journey. 


6. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: Manali and Udaipur

With YJHD, treks with friends and destination weddings became the talk of the town, partly because of the locations they were set in. Whether it was trekking across mountain passes in the middle of the night, setting up bonfires in the hills, or discovering temples, Manali was brought to life in the first half of the movie. 


And from sitting atop old forts to bustling through old streets, the movie had us reeling in the royal charm of Udaipur in its second half. 


7. Shuddh Desi Romance: Jaipur

For Bollywood’s possibly first exploration of live-in relationships, Jaipur proved a fine setting indeed. The old world charm of Jaipur intermingled perfectly with the modern-day concept of relationships and commitment that the movie wanted to present.  And of course, the majestic forts served as an ideal ground for millennial romance. 


8. Kai Po Che!: Ahmedabad

With Kai Po Che! the audience was treated to the culturally rich heritage of Ahmedabad. Because of the timeline of the story, the movie portrayed the devastating effects of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake and Godhra train burning. But the movie also presented the innate spirit of Ahmedabad, with its dandiya festivals and sports competitions. 


9. Karwaan: Ooty and Kerala

As the movie takes you on a journey across the backroads of Ooty and Kerala, you find yourself falling in love with the picturesque locations and road trips. The road trip is perhaps the most consistent part of the plot. And in this case, the beauty of the journey lies in not just the characters’ self-exploration, but also in the areas the passengers traverse on. 

Deccan Herald

10. Dear Zindagi: Goa

Dil Chahta Hai may have made us first fall in love with road trips and Goa, but it was Dear Zindagi that showed us the side of Goa we often miss out on. The movie rekindled the joy of idyllic beaches while also presenting heritage villas, laidback cafes, and palm-fringed roads that encompass the hard-to-capture Goan spirit. 


11. Udaan: Jamshedpur

The city of steel made for an unforgiving yet inspiring impetus for Vikramaditya Motwane’s heartwrenching coming-of-age story. Steel factories, wide roads and the diverse nature of Jamshedpur became both, Rohan’s (Rajat Barmecha) shackle and escape.


12. Lootera: Dalhousie

Set in the 1950s, this historical romance by Vikramaditya Motwane, saw Ranveer Singh gave one of his career’s finest performances. And the second half of the movie – that’s primarily shot in Dalhousie – benefitted greatly from the city’s pristine beauty and snow covered peaks. Especially the climax scene that was shot with such dexterity that it left an indelible impact. 


Know of any other movie where the city it was set in became as much a part of the movie as the characters and the story itself? Let us know in the comments section below.