There’s no denying the power of cinema to transport you to anywhere in the world, real or imagined. While you may be bound indoors, we offer you films that will take you on a vicarious journey across the world, from a rain-drenched fort in the Konkan to the neon lights of Tokyo.
Chhoti Si Baat
Basu Chatterjee’s 1976 romantic comedy is a loving ode to the everyday. It’s also a portal into 1970s Bombay by one of the most affectionate chroniclers of the city. The romance between its protagonists Arun (Amol Palekar) and Prabha (Vidya Sinha) unfolds on one of Bombay’s iconic red BEST buses and blossoms across South Bombay and the suburb of Bandra—there’s a movie at Eros cinema, dates with the Gateway of India as the backdrop and courtship at Almeida Park. One of the film’s restaurant scenes was shot at the Samovar Café at Jehangir Art Gallery, which had been a popular haunt for Bombay’s creatives and intellectuals—including Palekar and Chatterjee—for 50 years until it shut down in 2015.
Avinash Arun’s 2014 Marathi film Killa (The Fort) is a sensitive coming of age story that explores themes of familial grief, trust and the idea of home. The cinematography is equally compelling and captures the greys, blues and emerald greens of some of the most picturesque locations in the monsoon-drenched Konkan coast, making it one of the best travel movies to spark your wanderlust. Some of the spots you’ll see include Guhagar (famous for its pristine beaches), Vijaydurg fort, and the temple town of Ganpatipule.
One of the biggest Malayalam hits of 2019, Kumbalangi Nights transports you to the winding waterways, country boats, and abundant coconut trees of Kerala’s Kumbalangi village. Located a 10-kilometre drive from Kochi, the fishing village has been developed as a tourism spot where one can engage with the area’s farmers, fisherman and toddy tappers. The placid backdrop is often at odds with the rest of the film, which, despite being charming and romantic, engages with serious themes of patriarchy, domestic violence, mental health and familial responsibility.
This frothy musical, set to the immensely catchy numbers of Swedish pop group ABBA, is the perfect pick-me-up. As usual, Meryl Streep steals the show as Donna, a woman who has been bequeathed a villa on a Greek island and runs it with moderate success at best. Her misfortunes only mount when three ex-lovers show up on her front step. Also vying for your attention are the turquoise beaches of the island of Skopelos, in the Aegean Sea, where the film was shot. The chapel of Saint John Kastri, where the wedding scene was filmed, is now commonly referred to as the Mamma Mia church.
The city of Vienna becomes the third character in the romance between a baby-faced Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy in the first of Richard Linklater’s now iconic Before trilogy. The couple begin and end their journey at Vienna’s Westbahnhof station. In between, you can follow them to Zollamtssteg Bridge, a record store at Windmühlgasse, the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Maria Theresa Monument at Maria-Theresien-Platz, Friedhof der Namenlosen (Cemetery of the Nameless), the Wiener Riesenrad ferris wheel at Prater Park, a terrace opposite the opera theatre at Albertinaplatz, and the Maria am Gestade church. The sequels—Before Sunset and Before Midnight—will take you on similar trips through Paris and Messenia in Greece.
This black and white classic introduced the world to the effortless charm of Audrey Hepburn, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as a princess who escapes the confines of her palace to explore Rome on her own and is discovered by an American reporter, played by Gregory Peck. The couple “accidently” meet on the Spanish Steps, visit the Mouth of Truth, tour the Colosseum and even ride a Vespa through the city’s chaotic traffic. Peck’s apartment in the film is at Via Margutta 51, close to where auteur Federico Fellini and his wife lived. The bittersweet ending was filmed at the opulent Sala Grande Galleria, one of Rome’s largest palaces making it undoubtedly one of the best travel movies of the 50s.
Lost in Translation
This quirky comedy by Sofia Coppola follows the odd romance between a fading American movie star (Bill Murray) and a young college graduate (Scarlett Johansson). The film explores themes of alienation and cultural dissonance, and was almost entirely shot in Tokyo’s colourful and chaotic Shinjuku and Shibuya districts. The couple meet at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, enjoy karaoke at Karaoke-Kan and dine on sushi at Ichikan in Shibuya. The neon-lit building facades seen in the movie are around the entrance of Shinjuku’s entertainment district Kabukicho, north-east of Shinjuku Station.