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10 Hindi Movies That Beautifully Explored The Setting Of ‘Chawl System’

ZEE5 Web Desk

May 11, 2021

9 min


Though story and performances play a vital role, the realistic locations represent the theme of the story. And here are some interesting Hindi films that explored the setting of chawl system.

What gets us hooked to a movie/show? While many of y’all would agree upon the good story aspect, a few others would prefer acting performances. However, we often overlook the setting of the story. Whether you believe it or not, the setting of the story is what gets us in the mood for a fictional drama. Though story and performances play a vital role, the realistic locations represent the theme of the story. Similarly, in ZEE5’s upcoming dark comedy ‘Sunflower’, the setting of the society will play an important role.

Sunflower follows the story of a murder investigation in a society. There will be a plethora of quirky characters that’ll add up to the comical undertone of the story. However, it’s the setting that has gotten the viewers super excited. So, ahead of the show’s release, we thought of treating you to some notable Hindi movies set in chawl system.

Here’s taking a look at 10 Hindi movies that explored the setting of the ‘chawl system’ very aptly.


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The masala potboiler Agneepath was an apt remake of the classic film. In this revenge saga, a helpless family seeks shelter at a Mumbai chawl after escaping from a ruthless gangster. Vijay (Hrithik Roshan) tormented with seeking revenge enters the world of crime. Well, keeping the story aside, most of the film was set in a chawl where Vijay resides.

The film perfectly captures little nuances on how everyone lives together in an inseparable unison. We can say that Agneepath got the portrayal of chawl system very right.

Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman

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Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman is the story of every common man struggling with the hardships amid a metro city. Our protagonist Raju (Shah Rukh Khan) resides in a chawl where he befriends a new tenant Renu (Juhi Chawla) and his life changes for good. The film too very perfectly portrays life in a chawl. From celebrating functions together to standing for each other in their difficult times, the story lives up to its setting.


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Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, Vaastav is still considered to be one of the finest crime dramas of Indian Cinema. The film essays how a series of unexpected events lead an innocent young man to enter the crime world. It is the first half of the film where we see Manjrekar portraying the setting of chawl system at its best.

There are young men unemployed who are desperately looking for jobs, families planning to move out of the chawl, etc. These little stories do justice to the film’s setting.


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Sudhir Mishra’s classic drama Dharavi captures many lifelike stories and dreams that remain incomplete due to mishaps. It revolves around the story of a taxi driver who aims at starting a new business. The film essays his struggles dealing with crime and poverty. Dharavi is shot in real locations and thus the film lives up to its theme. 

The setting of Dharavi gives us an insight into the widespread slum and chawl system and the million dreams that remain unfulfilled.

Salaam Bombay

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One of the finest works of Mira Nair is the 1988 film, Salaam Bombay. The film follows the story of a young boy and his escape in the dream city. In here, it’s not the usual chawl system that becomes the setting. Mira Nair portrays the underbelly of Mumbai dived into the world of crime. Precisely, it’s the story of children who get entangled in several crimes just to fulfil their cravings for drugs or to earn daily bread. Salaam Bombay is as real as it gets.

City Of Gold

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Another Mahesh Manjrekar film that is quite entertaining and real due to its setting. If Vaastav is Manjrekar’s most compelling work, ‘Lalbaug Parel’ or ‘City Of Gold’ is a mirror to an untold reality. The film essays the story of mill workers who deal with the dawn of commercialization. While the main plot essays a realistic story, the setting of the colony becomes an entertaining factor.

With many interesting characters and subplots, Manjrekar once again manages to aptly portray the chawl system through his films.

Taxi No 9211

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In Taxi No 9211, Raghav (Nana Patekar) and Jai’s (John Abraham) lives are paralleled perfectly. While Raghav struggles with the problems of livelihood in the city, Jai, son of a late businessman aims to get his father’s widespread business under his name. They both unexpectedly meet each other and end up guiding one another. Coming to the setting, through Raghav’s life, we get a glimpse of life in a chawl. 

From unwanted neighbours to day-to-day problems, the film essays a more real side of the city.

Black Friday

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If you ever feel like getting a tour of long spread lanes and chawls in Mumbai just tune to the popular chase sequence in Black Friday. Shot with secret cameras in real locations, the film gives you a more realistic view of how the arrests behind the 1992 blasts might have happened.

Also, the vital characters like Badshah Khan (Aditya Srivastava) resided in a chawl. And this character arc in the film gives us a peek at how during the riots people helped each other.


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In the Sai Paranjpe directed romantic comedy, we get a classic view of Pune’s chawl system. It follows the story of Rajaram (Naseeruddin Shah), a middle-class man who falls in love with his neighbour Sandhya (Deepti Naval). However, problems occur when his cunning friend Vashu (Farooq Shaikh) tries to woo Sandhya. The film aptly portrays the setting of a chawl through various scenes.

This includes the neighbours being concerned about every major happening in the chawl or the scenes where Vashu is seen making rounds of each and every house for his personal benefits.

Gully Boy

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The modern-age rags to riches drama ‘Gully Boy’ follows the story of Murad (Ranveer Singh) who expresses his views through rapping, a new art form. This piques his interest and ultimately he decides to achieve it big in the world of rapping. From his family problems to various societal issues, the setting of the ‘chawl system’ and ‘slums’ is the soul of this drama.

Sunflower web series will be streaming on ZEE5 from June 11, 2021.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to ZEE5 for more interesting content and stories.

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