Filmmakers are beginning to slowly realise the potential of UP’s thus far untapped locales.
Their choice ranges from Mathura’s Nandgaon where Akshay Kumar is currently shooting for his latest — Toilet: Ek Prem Katha – to Bareilly where Ayushman Khurana’s Bareilly ki Barfi is likely to be filmed in addition to Lucknow where it is currently being shot.
In fact, whether it’s the Ashton Kutcher starrer Jobs, Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2, Bidita Bag’s T for Taj or Richa Chadda’s Masaan, all have one thing in common—Uttar Pradesh.
With approximately 125 plus film offers from Bollywood and the promise of some international projects too, the state’s latest film policy finally appears to be making some impact.
“All top names of Bollywood have travelled to UP and shown interest in shooting in the state. Many of them have already begun shooting and many more are waiting to come here,” says principal secretary of information, Navneet Sehgal who also heads Film Bandhu, a nodal agency to ensure speedy clearances to filmmakers.
The policy was re-worked in 2015 and boosted by a push from the chief minister’s office .
“Uttar Pradesh’s re-worked film policy and the buzz it has generated has now inspired states like Haryana, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh (MP) too,” says producer Anil Patil who shot Dasdev in UP.
Some of the films that have either been shot or about to be shot include Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Babumoshai Bandookbaaz and Akshay Kumar starrer Jolly LLB 2 and Seema Kapoor’s film Kabari in Lucknow.
Another big ticket film with Sunny Deol and Manoj Bajpai in the lead is also likely to be shot in the state. A few of them like Nil Batey Sannata and Masaan shot in UP have already been screened and won critical acclaim.
A film promotion and facilitation committee at the district level has also been set up.
In May, many were surprised when the state government sent out a global ‘Make your film in UP’ invite to filmmakers from Cannes.
For a state, which has been busy reworking its film policies since 1999 to attract Mumbai’s dream merchants, this was a first.
A little before the UP delegation visited Cannes, Sehgal had attended the 63rd National Film Festival in Delhi where he had received on behalf of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav ‘the Special Mention Certificate’ under the “Most Film Friendly State Award’ from President Pranab Mukherjee.
“Australian film maker Christopher Simon has shown interest to shoot a period film set around the 1950s in Lucknow and Kanpur. UK-based Shirali Le Mercier, Emilia Wilman and Canada’s Mahi Kaur have expressed interest in shooting their films in Varanasi,” said Gaurav Dwivedi, vice-chairman of the UP Film Development Council (UPFDC).
While international film projects are yet to materialise, top government officials agree that there has been a definite increase in films being shot in the state. Before Cannes, the UP government had sent a similar ‘Make your film in UP’ invite to Mumbai filmmakers in 2015.
Vishal Kapoor, the UPFDC member who was part of the Mumbai and Cannes delegation, says that efforts are now on to promote lesser known locales in the state like those in Bundelkhand. “The state is full of such beautiful locations which are now attracting filmmakers,” says Kapoor who had recently travelled to picturesque Chitrakoot to probe potential locations for filmmakers.
Kapoor has already met Anupama Chopra, chairperson of the Mumbai Film Festival, to find out possibilities of having a similar festival in UP. Top filmmakers like Boney Kapoor have praised UP CM’s proactive interest in helping filmmakers shoot in the state.
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