With its rural setting and coastal outlet, Chembur was home to native fishermen and blue-collared workers during the British era. With independence and the impending partition, several square kilometers of Chembur were converted to settlements for refugees, who set up small shops.
The economic value of Chembur grew with the setting up of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and refineries and power plants including Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers, HPCL and BPCL amongst others.
As this power force was growing, another parallel industry emerged, generating mass employment- Bollywood. Located only a few feet away from each other, several film studios including RK Films, Asha Studios, Shrikant Studios among others became a successful revenue and fame-generating model for Chembur. However, the advent of infrastructure development and better opportunities in the western suburbs resulted in the death of this successful industry here.
Now the area houses a mix of young professionals and businessmen. Local shop owners working in Chembur Naka and Chembur Colony are however, bearing the brunt of the monorail project. “Business has dropped by more than 60%. With pillars of the project erected right in front of my shop, people hardly notice it,” said P Rajesh, who has run a photo studio here for decades.