Last year, Aamir Khan’s Talaash (2012) made news for shooting in Kamathipura,the city’s infamous red light area. Now another film, Rajjo, is set in the same place. But the
makers have gone a step further and recreated the setting, including narrow bylanes, brothels, restaurants and small cinema houses on a four-acre patch of land in Borivali. The land belongs to the owners of a 200-year-old bungalow called Garden Retreat, which is also on the property.
The set is reportedly worth a whopping Rs 5 crore. Director Vishwas Patil says, “We have constructed four lanes from Kamathipura, along with numerous buildings. Since the land is private property, no government permissions were required. We have also built portions of Pila House, Mumbai Central’s Congress House and Bachchu Bhai Ki Wadi, which are areas where Mumbai’s nautch girls operate from.”
Rajjo stars Kangana Ranaut as a nautch girl who falls in love with actor Paras Arora’s character. The film also features Jaya Prada. Binod Pradhan of Devdas (2002) fame has been roped in as the cinematographer.
Vishwas says, “My sets are not like those seen in Devdas. The kotha in my film is not from the 18th or 19th century. They are based on the crammed surroundings of Mumbai’s red light areas.
Around 700 workers constructed the set, under the guidance of art director Muneesh Sapple. The entire set took two months to create. However, the film might not be shot solely on these sets. The makers are looking to venture into Kamathipura as well. Vishwas says, “Even after spending so much money to build the sets, we may eventually end up shooting some portions of the film in actual red light areas of the city. I feel that true art travels between reality and imagination.”
Films in which Kamathipura has been recreated on a set:
Salaam Bombay (1988)
Zindagi 50-50 (unreleased)