This World Heritage Day, here’s exploring Bollywood’s connect with Delhi monuments

April 18 is World Heritage Day. Here’s looking at the romance between Bollywood films and Delhi’s heritage sites listed by UNESCO — Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and Red Fort.

bollywood Updated: Apr 17, 2017 21:24 IST
Naina Arora
Naina Arora
Hindustan Times
Heritage,Delhi,Qutub Minar
The song Shukran Allah from the 2009 film Kurbaan (2009) — starring actor-couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan — was shot at Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi.

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.

Humayun’s Tomb

ABOUT THE MONUMENT: Located in Nizamuddin East, this regal Mughal architecture has been the background of many romantic numbers. Built in 1565 AD, nine years after Humayun’s death, by his widow, Bega Begam, the monument has garden squares (chaharbagh) with pathways water channels, a mausoleum exceeded by a double dome. In 1857 AD, Lieutenant Hudson captured the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II from here. Source: Delhi Tourism, UNESCO. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

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.”

Qutub Minar

ABOUT THE MONUMENT: Built in 1193 AD by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, a 72.5 metre high tower of victory in red and buff standstone, Qutub Minar is an architectural delight. It houses India’s first mosque, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and a seven metre high iron pillar. The construction that was started by the first Muslim-ruler of Delhi in 1200 AD was completed by Firoz Shah Tughlak, who built the fifth and the last storey. Source: Delhi Tourism, UNESCO.

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.”

Red Fort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at an Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort in New Delhi, India. ABOUT THE MONUMENT: This site, which becomes a riot of colours on the Independence Day, was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad, the capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan. The walls of red sandstone, adjacent to the Salimgarh fort, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, forms the Red Fort Complex. While the planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, each architectural element reflects a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. Source: Delhi Tourism, UNESCO. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

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.

A still from Bajrangi Bhaijaan. One can see Red Fort in the background.

First Published: Apr 17, 2017 21:20 IST