Fitoor, Haider and more: Films where the milleu is a character
Bollywood’s love affair with Kashmir takes a new turn this Friday with the release of Katrina Kaif, Aditya Roy Kapur and Tabu’s forthcoming film Fitoor, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The first film to be shot in the valley after last year’s devastating floods, director Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor promises to give Kashmir a personality seldom attempted in Bollywood: The valley plays a pivotal role in the turn of events in the film’s narrative.
It is rare that a Bollywood movie gives such importance to the milieu, but there have been instances where the story would have been completely different had it not been for the city where the plot is based. We take a look at Bollywood films where cities are equally important characters, as much as the stars in it.
A narrative of love and pathos, Masaan is set against the visually powerful backdrop of funeral pyres and burning ghats in Varanasi. Starring Richa Chaddha, Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi, Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut in 2015 could not have been possible without the holy city as the backdrop. Not just the ghats, even the social fibre where the love stories of Richa and Shweta are placed, the way police deals with the common man and the mighty and the high... all of it is quite unique to the holy city.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptation of Hamlet is based in Kashmir and has characters with roots deeply-set in the socio-political fabric of the Valley. One of the boldest mainstream films on Kashmir, Haider was mired in controversies wherein people alleged that it tarnished the image of the Indian army in Kashmir. Some even claimed that the 2014 film portrayed Kashmiri pandits in a bad light.
The dark-underbelly of our national capital is perfectly captured in Kanu Behl’s film which hit theatres in 2015. Right from the nexus between builders and criminals to extortions and lives influenced by the overwhelming-yet-out-of-reach luxuries, Delhi is written all over the film’s narrative.
We know every region in our country has its own share of male chauvinists and criminal gangs, but the typical over-confident, uneducated and uncouth petty ones found in the ‘badlands of Haryana’ are one of a kind. Anushka Sharma’s production debut in 2015, where she also starred as the lead, aptly uses Haryana in the narrative.
5. Ishaqzaade (2012)
Habib Faisal’s love story involving families with traditional enmity wouldn’t be the same if it were to be set in, say Delhi. The political fights and college life shown in the film is unique to the state of Uttar Pradesh. You will only find a Chand Baby (Gauhar Khan) in this state.
6. Delhi 6 (2009)
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi 6 is a story about love and family. However, the narrow by-lanes of the old city and the culture of celebrating each other’s faith are as much part of the narrative as the lead characters played by Sonam Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan.
7. Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Delhi, one of the most recurrent cities to feature in our films, plays an important part yet again in Dibakar Banerjee’s directorial debut in 2006. Be it Kishen Khurrana (Boman Irani) or Meghna’s dramatics company, their characteristics are typically found in Delhi alone.
One of the best film’s by Ram Gopal Varma, Satya, or for that matter, most of the underworld movies that our film industry produces, are typically based in Mumbai and nearby areas. While each region has their own share of goons and the powerful, the eccentric nature of the bad guys in our financial capital is unique and Manoj Bajpayee’s Bhikhu Mhtare would not have been the same.
The author tweets @swetakaushal
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