Bollywood’s long obsession with setting stories in metro cities is slowly seeing a decline. The new crop of film makers hail from smaller towns like Jamshedpur, Allahabad and Gorakhpur and so the stories they tell come from their growing up years. The audience now gets to appreciate the beauty of these cities where even the city is treated like a character in the film.

Here’s a list of 12 films that are set in smaller cities of our vast country:

1. Udaan – Jamshedpur

This 2010 film by Vikramaditya Motwane is the story of a boy who has been rusticated from his school in Shimla and moves back in with his father in Jamshedpur. The film utilizes the steel city as unforgiving and harsh and also acts as an inspiration to the characters as and when the story requires it. The film was officially selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard (A Certain Glance) category at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. 


2. Raanjhanaa – Banaras

This film starring Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor had Banaras ingrained into the story entirely. The religious divide, the local culture and color of the city was beautifully captured in the first half of the film. Even the dialect used in the film was true to the city. Banaras was not just a location for this film, the city was featured like a character.


3. Dum Laga Ke Haisha – Haridwar

This unlikely love story was set in the 90s in Haridwar. It captured the beauty of picturesque Ganges and made us long for the simpler cassette playing days. The film proved again that stories from smaller towns and their people give us a good dose of nostalgia.


4. Lootera – Manikpur & Dalhousie

Lootera was a tale set in the 50s and made us appreciate the beauty of Manikpur, a small town in West Bengal. The second half of the film showcased the alluring snow clad mountains of Dalhousie. Lootera saw some stellar performances by Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha.


5. Finding Fanny – Goa

Finding Fanny showed Goa like no film had shown before. There were no rave parties in this one but lesser known outskirts of the state. The locations in the film became popular overnight. The road trip took us through lesser known areas of Goa that were earlier not known by tourists.


6. Tanu Weds Manu – Kanpur

This film starring R. Madhavan, Kangana Ranaut and Jimmy Shergill came out in 2011 and taught us to appreciate the simplicity of cities like Kanpur. The story appreciated the humor the city had to offer. The characters became believable as they were set in real locations.


7. Masaan – Banaras

Masaan was a story that tackled class difference, corruption, love and death. The two stories that run parallely in the film capture the tragedy that death brings with it. The ghats of Banaras, where a lot of Hindus come for their family’s last rites, were an essential part of the story. Richa Chadda and Vicky Kaushal were the two protagonists of the film. 



8. Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1 & 2 – Dhanbad and nearby areas

This film directed by Anurag Kashyap told a story that traveled through three generations. Centered on the coal mafia of Dhanbad, the film’s dialogue and music highlighted the local flavor. Since the film’s story starts in the 40s and continues till the 90s, all locations were appropriately chosen. It surely made an impact on the audience as it is considered by many as a modern cult film.


9. Bunty Aur Babli – Various cities of Uttar Pradesh

Rakesh (Abhishek Bachchan) and Vimmi (Rani Mukerji) are both from small towns in Uttar Pradesh but have dreams they want to fulfill. Their chance meeting at a railway station gives start to their cons. They start with Lucknow and later head to Agra covering a lot of small cities in UP. This film has the famous sequence where the lead characters sell Taj Mahal to a firang. The small town flavor is deeply embedded in this 2005 film by Shaad Ali. 


10. Aaja Nachle – Shamli

This 2007 film was Madhuri Dixit’s comeback vehicle into Bollywood. The story was set in the small town of Shamli, Uttar Pradesh. The local politics, the togetherness of people and even the class difference was wonderfully highlighted in the film that was about saving a deserted dance theater. The film didn’t do well commercially, but was praised for Madhuri’s performance.


11. Haasil – Allahabad

Haasil is 2003 film, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and is known for its fantastic performances by Irrfan Khan and Jimmy Shergill. The film is set in Allahabad where student politics takes a nasty turn. It was appreciated for its portrayal of life in a small town of northern India. This film has gained a cult following in the past few years. 


12. Kai Po Che – Ahmedabad

Kai Po Che is a 2013 film based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel, The 3 Mistakes of My Life. The story is set in Ahmedabad and follows the lives of three friends. The dandiya and sports in the film showed the lighter side of life whereas, the Gujarat riots shown in the second half made the film gritty.


Here’s to watching more beautiful cities in movies!