City of Gold (Marathi: Lalbaug Parel) is a 2010 Indian film released in both Hindi and Marathi. The film was Mahesh Manjrekar’s 17th film, having previously directed critically acclaimed films such as Astitva and Viruddh… Family Comes First. It was adapted from Jayant Pawar’s Marathi play, Adhantar, with Pawar going on to co-write the film’s screenplay. The film explores the life of Mumbai’s mill workers after the Mumbai mills shut down in response to the Great Bombay Textile Strike of the early 1980s. The film opened to mixed reviews, though it was commended for its themes, and acting. The name of the Marathi version of this film is Lalbaug Parel, while the Hindi version was released as City of Gold.
The film is the story of a family of mill workers in Mumbai. It follows the workers as politics and greed rise in Mumbai and exposes the 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.
Baba Dhudu narrates his story to his fiance. He is a son of a mill worker & has 2 brothers, Naru & Mohan & a sister Manju. Along with his parents, they stay in a congested locality of Parel. Mohan has a regular job as an accountant, while Naru & Baba are jobless. Naru is a local strongman & bashes anyone who crosses him or his friends. Baba aspires to be a professional playwright & spends time in writing, which his family despises as this does not bring any income for the family. His father is retired from the mill & fighting for his retirement dues from the mill which is on verge of closing down. The mill is managed son-in-law of the owner Mr Khaitan, who is a very hard-nosed selfish person. His aim is the close down the mill & establish real estate business over the mill land, which is worth gold in today’s market. In order to covert the mill into a commercial complex, he needs NOC from the mill workers as well as their resignation letters. Mill workers are adamant over their dues & not willing to sacrifice their jobs. Rane & Govind are their leaders & Dr Sawant is union leader & fights the legal battle for the mill workers. Govind is short-tempered & always willing to physically fight with the owners, while Rane is practical & feels legal recourse is the best way to get justice. The mill workers are fighting for dues of 6 months & one fine day it is announced that the mill would be closed down. Mill workers go on strike & local politician gets involved.
Meanwhile, Naru gets involved with local don Parshya Bhai & starts running errands for him along with his friends. Mohan who is a hardcore cricket buff one fine day syphons off Rs. 25,000 from his company to bet on a match which he loses. Baba rescues him from the police after settling the dues by selling his kidney, unknown to his family. Manju becomes pregnant & is distraught when she comes to know that her lover is already married. Her father gets paralytic attack due to this & is bedridden. He requests Rane to marry his daughter, which he accepts.
The local politician intervenes & mill workers agree to give NOC, but not resignation & it is decided that a part of the mill would be restored. But the very night when the mill is supposed to resume, it is blown away by an explosion, presumably by the owner. Now nothing in hand, the mill workers sit on a strike. Things go from bad to worse & they start selling off their personal possessions to survive. Some of the ladies get into prostitution, while kids get into mugging. There is a constant face-off between owners & mill workers. In a fit of rage one fine day, Govind assaults brother-in-law of the owner. He is enraged at this action & hires Parshya Bhai to kill Govind. Parshya Bhai assigns the task to Naru but doesn’t tell him who the target is. Naru shoots Govind dead, only to realise later that he has shot down the father of his best friend ‘Speedbreaker’. Naru goes into hiding. Later his father dies out of the shock of the news. Naru later confronts Parshya Bhai who tricked him by not paying his share of the contract. He kills him with the help of his friends. Naru is in turn killed by Speedbreaker & he takes over the gang of Parshya Bhai. The mill owner finally comes up with some cash & mill workers give in & agree to sign required legal documents for a very small part of their original compensation. Rane is distraught that just as the court is about to give it’s verdict, the owners have tricked them taking advantage of their desperate situation.
Sometime later Baba finally achieves his dream of a becoming a professional playwright & is about to take his mother to the first show of his play. His mother is overwhelmed by his success & after a long hard life, she finally sees some hope. When she reads his name in the newspaper she dies out of shock.
Baba finishes his narration & takes his finance to meet all the characters he had narrated in his story. Rane is still delusional that he will win the legal battle, rest of them have got their lives back on track & Speedbreaker runs his gang along with his friends.
Shashank Shende as Anna
Seema Biswas as Aai
Ankush Choudhary as Baba
Anusha Dandekar as Manasi
Vineet Kumar Singh as Mohan
Veena Jamkar as Manju
Karan Patel as Naru
Siddharth Jadhav as Speedbreaker
Satish Kaushik as Mama
Kashmira Shah as Mami
Sameer Dharmadhikari as Mahendra
Ganesh Yadav as Parshya Bhai
Sachin Khedekar as Arvind Rane
Vinay Apte as Govind
Kishore Pradhan as Khetan Sheth
Vaibhav Mangle as Doctor Saheb
Sai Tamhankar as Shalu / Naru’s girlfriend