By Nilesh P. Khandare(26 Feb 2010)
Today, there is hardly anyone who hasn’t visited the swanky shopping malls, nightclubs, lounge bars, clubs and other such lifestyle destinations that sprung up across the centre of Mumbai.
However, very few know that buried deep below these glittering edifices to consumerism lies the dark, dirty and painful reality of many thousands of mill workers who once worked the cotton mills in this very same area. Rising and toiling to the wail of the mill sirens each and every day, seven days a week, these workers embodied the true unbridled zeal and unflagging spirit of the city and played a pivotal role in the evolution of Mumbai as the modern day business capital of India.
And then it suddenly was as if they never existed. Following the mill workers strike in the mid-80s, these mills began closing down rapidly and the mill-workers mysteriously disappeared. What happened to them, and where they went is one of the most shameful secrets that the city of Mumbai will have to bear for generations, one that until now has always been spoken about in hushed whispers.
City of Gold - the story of these long-forgotten masses – not only explores the apathy of these mill workers narrated through the story of one such family, but is also a take-no-prisoners account of the birth of the true underbelly of organized crime in Mumbai.
The film traces the birth of the politics of greed in Mumbai and exposes the unholy collusion between the triumvirate of big business, the political establishment and the trade union leaders who ostensibly were charged with protecting the rights of the mill workers. In the two decades that followed, the entire landscape of Central Mumbai was changed forever. Land became the currency of growth, and this began the systematic extinction of mills in Mumbai. In a matter of just a few years, hundreds of thousands of workers lost their means of livelihood. Having worked in these mills from generation to generation, this was the only vocation that they knew.
Many left Mumbai and went back to their ancestral homes, some others chose to stay back and fight what they soon realised was a losing battle, some took the extreme step of ending their miserable lives, and still some others took to a world of crime.
Truth… as is said, is stranger than fiction. But the truth that the film uncovers is not just stranger but darker and dirtier than any mind has ever imagined. Produced by DAR Motion Pictures and from the Director of dark and realistic films like Vaastav – Mr Mahesh Manjrekar, ‘City of Gold’ takes another trip down memory lane.... just that this time around the result is a much more heart wrenching, soul stirring and shocking film about human avarice and apathy.
The film doesn’t provide any direct solutions. Yet it shatters many a myth and raises many a question which only the passage of time will provide answers to.........