Think of Saif Ali Khan wooing Kareena Kapoor Khan in Kurbaan (2009) at Humayun’s Tomb or Aamir Khan dancing to Chand Sifarish in Fanaa (2006) at Qutub Minar, and one can’t deny that Delhi’s timeless heritage sites have made for picturesque backdrops in Bollywood films for ages.
This World Heritage Day (April 18), here’s taking you for a heritage walk in Delhi, Bollywood style.
Shukran Allah (from Kurbaan) wasn’t the only song shot at Humayun’s Tomb, the Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011) track, Choomantar, was another one to be filmed at the UNESCO heritage site. Baar Baar Dekho (2016) director Nitya Mehra also shot a short film, titled The Cherry On Top, near Humanyun’s Tomb.
About these monuments that represent Delhi, Mehra says: “They are rich, beautiful and entrenched in history. A scene against any of them establishes the characters to be set in Delhi. As filmmakers, we constantly try to make our stories believable. It’s like when one shoots in Paris, inevitably a shot of the Eiffel Tower emerges. In a world that’s evolving as fast as this, it’s amazing to have monuments that stand the test of time. Cinematically, no set or construction can ever match up to the scale, beauty and grandiose of any of these.”
Playing the character of a tourist guide Aamir Khan dances about in the Qutub Minar complex in the song Chaand Sifarish. Kunal Kohli, the director of the film, Fanaa, who shot the film at several locations in Delhi, says: “We need to showcase our rich heritage and culture, as our cinema reaches all over the world. When things are in our backyard, we tend to overlook them.” Kohli adds that regular cultural programmes and events should be held at these world heritage sites. “We only change the lighting on January 26 and August 15. That shouldn’t be the case. Maybe, plays based on the history of the heritage site should be staged to create awareness.”
Some parts of the hit blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) — starring actors Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan — was shot in front of the Red Fort. Starring Abhay Deol and Soha Ali Khan, the film Ahista Ahista, also has glimpses of the Red Fort.