For years, it’s been tipped as the village where the annual ‘rural Olympics’ are held, away from the glitz of leagues and mega-bucks, closer to the soil and ethos of sports. Now, Kila Raipur has gone Bollywood, and big!
About 20km from Ludhiana, it has seen top stars shooting for wrestling-focused movies over the past year. While Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma are here to shoot for ‘Sultan’, Aamir Khan has already shot here for ‘Dangal’ last year and is set to return for another schedule soon.
On Wednesday, the presence of Salman and Anushka lured hundreds of fans from far and wide to the two sets at the rural stadium here which has been offered for shooting free of charge. The fact that Ludhiana nearby boasts of several five-star hotels has added to the comfort quotient for Bollywood stars to shoot here.
It has also generated some employment as a large number of men and women from several villages have been recruited to cheer for Anushka during a ‘wrestling match’. These include men who work as labourers at farms otherwise. Also part of the shoot are several female wrestlers in their teens from Moga and Ferozepur, besides Narangwal and Gujjarwal villages here, all of whom were visibly excited to be part of the movie. Media, however, were not allowed to click or interact with the stars at the shoot site.
“When we were told yesterday that we will be ferried to Kila Raipur where Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma are shooting a film, we just could not believe our ears. It is a dream come true,” said 15-year-old Harpan Kaur, a resident of Gujjarwal, who was accompanied by four other state-level wrestlers. A tourist van ferried them to the stadium from the local Dana Mandi (grain market). These sportspersons are being paid Rs 400 each, while the 30-odd labourers, all from at Mullanpur Dakha, are also being paid Rs 300-400 each to be among the ‘spectators’.
On Instagram: Anushka shares ‘behind the scenes’ video
Said 50-year-old Charanjit Singh, who works on a farm at Mullanpur Dhaka: “I am a huge fan of Salman Khan. It is a matter of pride that he has come to our village. We came last time also when Aamir Khan was shooting here. Aamir was more cordial. He met all of us. But we have not been able to talk to Salman yet.”
Another of the ‘spectators’, Satnam Singh, said, “We were told to clap for Anushka when she ‘wins’. We clapped hard. It felt great to be seated so close to Anushka and Salman.”
“I am illiterate otherwise. But like all others I am a Salman Khan fan. We will be coming here tomorrow as well,” he added.
Based on the life of Haryana-based wrestler Sultan Ali Khan, the last leg of the film is being shot here. Dangal too has Aamir portraying Haryana-based Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trained in wrestling his daughters Babita Kumari and Geeta Phogat, both international medal-winners.
Village sarpanch Kesar Singh said the ‘Sultan’ crew had informed them about their plan a month ago and they had decided to give the stadium for shooting free of cost. “It is a matter of great pride that Kila Raipur is now a tourist destination for movies too,” he said. But, many fans returned disappointed as Salman and Anushka did not meet anyone.
On Instagram: Movie poster as put up by Anushka