With 100 years of Indian cinema in 2013, Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt feels that it is time to bring India back to Indian cinema. "We have to explore our own backyards before moving to foreign shores. Why film makers go abroad when there is so much unexplored terrain in India? Darjeeling is a jewel and we have to bring it back to Indian cinema," stated Bhatt.
Bhatt along with his daughter Pooja and actor Imran Zahid were in Darjeeling on Thursday. "Despite Ooty and Kashmir being important film locales, as a young director, I preferred to come to Darjeeling in 1979 to shoot for my film Lahoo Ke Doo Rang, starring Shabana Azmi and Vinod Khanna. I had been inspired by a film shot in Darjeeling by Satyajit Ray. Later many critics had stated that a unique dimension of Darjeeling had been captured in this film. Darjeeling was also a favourite destination of Director Shakti Shamanta," stated Bhatt.
Walking on her father's footsteps, even Pooja wants to give Darjeeling a try for her next film Jism 2. My films have been shot in Lahaul spiti and Puducherry- all new locales. Now I want to try out Darjeeling for my film Jism 2. The film demands a fine balance between nature and colonial architecture- Darjeeling perfectly fits the bill. We are looking around. Though we have other locations in mind also, Darjeeling tops the list. I have fond memories of Darjeeling," stated Pooja.
Pooja was barely four years old when she had first accompanied her father for the shoot of Lahoo Ke Doo Rang. She returned back to Darjeeling in 1989 to shoot for the film Chor Aur Chaand in which she had starred opposite Aditya Pancholi. When I had accompanied my father, I had taken back with me an Aapso puppy. This time my husband has warned me not to take back anything," guffawed Pooja.
However, she deftly steered clear of who would star in her film Jism 2, with names like Sunny Leone doing the rounds. "Jism 2 goes beyond the body. Brand Jism is not about who is starring in it. I will formally announce the name next week," stated Pooja.
She could even choose Darjeeling as a location for her future film based on the Nanavati murder of 1952. "I want a locale that has frozen in time and Darjeeling would be a good option," added Pooja.
Even Papa Bhatt was all praise for Darjeeling. "I remember when we were shooting for Lahoo at the Chowrasta, the interaction between the actors and the crowd was great. The people were so friendly and so keen in cooperating with us that they did exactly as they were told."
However, Bhatt did not fail to mention the problem director Anurag Basu had with the crowd while shooting for Barfee in Darjeeling. "I will try to smoothen whatever misunderstanding there has been when I get back to Mumbai," assured the veteran director.
Bhatt feels that a single successful film can kick start Darjeeling as an important cine locale. "Young filmmakers are constantly looking for new locales. They will surely want to try out Darjeeling. Even the district administration is willing to cooperate with the film industry to facilitate shootings here," remarked Bhatt.