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Bollywood?s lush locations

This year Bollywood is taking audiences to a tour of unexplored destinations world over, reports Hiren Kotwani.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 02:48 IST

Remember Holland’s tulip farms that painted the screen red in Silsila? Or the brilliant blue skies of Budapest in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam? Bollywood’s love affair with foreign locations is well known, but this year it is taking audiences to a tour of unexplored destinations across the world. Besides Bangkok, which has featured in about a dozen odd films, new destinations like Brazil, Turkey, Poland, Namibia or even Malaysia feature in the releases this year.

The recently-released Gangster treated us to Seoul and some other parts of Korea. “Initially we thought of shooting in Bangkok or Hong Kong, but when I learnt that October-November was the best time to visit Korea, I planned my shoot there,” informs director Anurag Basu, adding, “Seoul is a perfect balance between natural beauty and urban concrete landscape. We shot most of the scenes in and around Seoul, in including Nami Island, a wonderful place to be in during winter.”

To beat the summer heat, there’s more of snowy winter coming next week. Welcome to Poland, where Kunal Kohli shot Fanaa with Aamir Khan and Kajol. “We’ve shot in Kashmir and Kullu Manali too. But due to heavy snow and lack of machines to remove it, shooting in these places wasn’t easy. So shooting in Poland was essential for continuity, in a sense that when you see the film, you wont be able to distinguish between the locations. A lot of scenes were shot in Zakopane, a small town.” But shooting at these places is not economical for those who make films within a stipulated budget. “It’s very expensive and you don’t get any support. We could manage it only because we had a decent budget for Fanaa. You’re out on your own and I don’t think our filmmakers would venture to shoot their films in Poland. The choice of location depends on the script and the setting it requires,” says Kohli.

A viewpoint Sanjay Gadhvi, director of Dhoom shares, “Every once in a while comes a film which has been shot in a new place, so the current scenario is not new either. Silsila was shot in Holland while Hum Tum was shot in Amsterdam.” Having completed a month-long spell of Dhoom-2 in the Brazilian capital, Gadhvi says, “Rio is a hot and sexy place, perfect for a hot and sexy film like Dhoom-2. We shot all over Rio and when you see the film, you’ll know why it was chosen as a location for the film.”

Gadhvi refuses to divulge anything about the scenes shot there, but considering they were in the Brazilian city from February 25 to March 25, when the carnival and other festivities take place, we are sure to witness the festive spirit when the film hits the cinemas this Diwali. Shooting in Brazil is no less expensive, and their next destination is Namibia. Says Gadhvi, “We’ll be going there soon to complete the film.”

And long after Amitabh Bachchan–Sridevi starrer, Khuda Gawah, Afghanistan will once again feature extensively in another Bollywood venture. Kabeer Khan’s Kabul Express for Yash Raj Films is based in the Afghan capital. “Filmmakers have shot in Afghanistan before so it’s not a new location per se. Yes, it’s rarely used in Hindi films. I’ve been to Afghanistan several times before so I know a lot of people there,” says Khan who has shot a few documentaries there, including one on the Afghan President Hameed Karzai.

Due to his contacts, Kabeer and his unit got “a lot of support from the government and the people there. I’ve cast some Afghan actors too. Besides, we were given good security with armed guards. We shot a lot around Kabul, and some far away places too,” he informs, adding, “My story is set in Kabul, which has its natural beauty in terms of mountains and lakes, which we utilised. Apart from these, there are also the dilapidated buildings, damaged by the war, which we wouldn’t have got anywhere else in the world. The only other option would have been to create those sets, but it wouldn’t be the same as shooting in actual locations, because when you reach there, you see how much you can do being there.”

Another fresh locale will be Turkey, where Mani Ratnam shot a portion of his film Guru, with Abhishek Bachchan and Mallika Sherawat. Considering that Ratnam is secretive about his films, a source informs, “They shot in areas surrounded by mountains, and some portions were shot in the hustle and bustle of the city.”

There’s also Malaysia, where Farhan Akhtar is extensively shooting Don – The Chase Begins Again with Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Priyanka Chopra and Ishaa Koppikar.
Akhtar is shooting in and around Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, including at the famous Petronas Towers, besides other well-known places.

Karan Johar returned to New York to film Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna after using the city in Kal Ho Naa Ho.

With Bollywood offering you a tour of these exotic, off the beaten track locations, fasten your seatbelts, grab your popcorn and enjoy the trip.

First Published: May 19, 2006 02:48 IST