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Rediscovering India

Some of the biggest Bollywood films are being shot in small towns across the country.

bollywood Updated: Mar 11, 2011 17:10 IST
Priyanka Jain

Gone are the days when a big budget film meant shooting in Paris or the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland. In what could be termed as a complete turnaround, Bollywood has lately discovered its love for the simple charm of small towns in India. Remember Jab We Met shot in Chandigarh, Shimla and Manali or Tanu Weds Manu (Kanpur) or Udaan (Jamshedpur) or 3 Idiots (Ahmedabad, Ladakh)? Metros and breathtaking international locales are now facing tough competition from Chambal, Roorkee, Benaras, Bhopal, Kutch, Chandigarh and Pataudi to name a few.

Besides being cost effective, the topography of these places lends authenticity to the look and feel of the film. Director-producer Prakash Jha, who has earlier shot Apaharan (2005) in Satara, Maharashtra and Raajneeti (2010) in Bhopal, is once again shooting his forthcoming film Aarakshan starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone in Bhopal. Jha says, “Compared to shooting in metros, it’s cheaper to shoot in smaller towns.”

ShimlaDirector Sudhir Mishra, who will be shooting Dhruv in Udaipur and Jodhpur and Homecoming in Chhattisgarh, points out that while there are advantages of shooting in metros, the costs undoubtedly escalate: "Shooting one scene in Mumbai costs almost Rs. 2 lakh. It is far more cost effective to shoot in small towns."

Mishra adds that an increasing number of filmmakers like Rajukumar Hirani (Nagpur) Anurag Kashyap (Benaras) and Imitiaz Ali (Jamshedpur) are from small town and tell stories deeply rooted in India. Sunny Deol and Kashyap, who are currently shooting in Benaras for Mohalla Assi and Gangs of Wasseypur, respectively, say they couldn’t entirely recreate the city’s temples, ghats and rivers elsewhere.

Director Tigmanshu Dhulia, who has shot his forthcoming films Paan Singh Tomar (PST) in Chambal and Roorkee and Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster in Gujarat, says, “There are lesser distractions during outdoor shoots. The picturesque ravine around the river Chambal have been formed over the years and add to the feel of PST.”

Production designer Aradhana Seth, who recreated Pakistan in Jayanti Majri, a village in the north of Chandigarh, for West is West, says, “Cinematically, it makes more sense to shoot in villages as they provide a natural feel.”

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
Pataudi, Agra, Dehradun, Mussoorie, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh

Dharamsala, Srinagar, Pahalgam

West Is West
Jayanti Majri near Chandigarh

Chalo Dilli

Paan Singh Tomar
Chambal, Roorkee, Dholpur

Gangs of Wasseypur
Benaras, Dhanbad

Mohalla Assi




Udaipur and Jodhpur


Teen Thay Bhai