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Bollywood pulls political strings

While Gujarat’s brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan helped filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj to get permissions to shoot in a haveli in Rajkot, makers of Saif Ali Khan-starrer Bullet Raja met Uttar Pradesh CM ahead of shooting in Lucknow.

bollywood Updated: Nov 08, 2012 19:54 IST

Knowing the brand ambassador of a state can be of great help. Especially if he happens to Amitabh Bachchan.

While doing a recce for his upcoming film, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Vishal Bhardwaj picked a haveli in Rajkot and wanted to shoot there. However, the property he chose is currently owned by a royal family, and Vishal could not manage to get the necessary permissions needed to shoot there. “He wanted to use it as Pankaj Kapoor’s character Mandola’s house. Mandola plays the role of a millionaire in the film, so his house needed to be as grand,” says a source.

Vishal checked out various other havelis as well, but his heart was set on the one he saw in Rajkot. Vishal and Big B happen to be good friends. They make it a point to catch up at events and social gatherings. “So, when Vishal came back to Mumbai, he met Mr Bachchan at an event and happened to speak to him about the haveli. And Amitji readily agreed to help him out.”

As the brand ambassador of Gujarat, Bachchan put in a word with state officials as well as the royal family. As a result, Vishal got the permission to shoot in the Rajkot haveli.

When contacted Vishal’s spokesperson confirms the news, saying, "Yes, Vishal was stuck due to some permission issues, but Mr Bachchan’s help went a long way. As a result, Vishal didn’t have to compromise and shoot at a different location."

Meanwhile, the makers of Bullet Raja will soon be heading to Lucknow to shoot the first schedule of the Saif Ali Khan-starrer. But a week before the crew departs for the location, the film’s director and co-producer Tigmanshu Dhulia and producer Rahul Mittra apparently flew to Lucknow to have an informal chat with Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Since Saif will be seen in the role of a UP-based gangster in the film, the makers wanted to discuss their cinematic portrayal of the state with Akhilesh.

According to an insider, the young politico was very welcoming. “They chatted about various social issues relevant to the film and honestly narrated the plot to him, which he heard with great interest,” says the source, adding that the politician did not object to anything that was discussed.

Keeping in mind past incidents such as when Arjun Kapoor was mobbed by fans while he was shooting for Ishaqzaade in Lucknow, the state authorities have promised the filmmakers extra security for Saif and his co-star Sonakshi Sinha during their stay. Since Tigmanshu shot Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011) in that region previously, he too is well-aware of the problems that can arise while shooting.

“The added security and related concerns were also discussed with Akhilesh,” says the source. When contacted, Rahul and Tigmanshu chose not to divulge any details.

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