The need for the perfect location is a never ending hunt for the filmmakers. They believe that the backdrop of any film should be as fascinating as the plot and the story. And now, besides their love for the exotic foreign locations to shoot, Bollywood stars seem to swear by the heartland of India, as it adds to the movies something that is poignant and real.
Setting plots in the historic environs of Agra, the enchanting ghats of Varanasi, the narrow alleys of Mathura or the traditional charm of Lucknow serves as an ideal proposition for the huge crop of movie makers.” Everything about the state — the locations, people, food, and language — is fascinating. You could shoot a romantic drama with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop, or a war film at a historical site,” speaks renowned filmmaker and associate producer of Legend Studios, Manish Singh.
In addition to the desi charm of the state what woos the Hindi film industry for shooting in U.P. is the state government’s film-friendly policy. “The subsidies are a blessing for the film industry,” says state’s film producer, Zafar Mehdi. In point of fact, plots are getting real, as are the locations, which now almost constitute a character in the films. And so the lands of Uttar Pradesh have begun to replace Mumbai’s dockyard as the breeding ground of larger-than-life screen crime lords.
Well, here is a mention of some of the alluring landmarks in Uttar Pradesh that have successfully captured the attention of several filmmakers for decades.
Taj mahal, Agra
One of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal is a global hotspot for cine lovers and fantasy enthusiasts. This symbol of love has been an ideal situate to enhance the romantic angle in the movie. Whether it is a single scene or just one song, the marvellous monument proffers a notable highlight in any movie.
Some of the movies showcasing Taj Mahal as well as shot in and around this wonder include Leader, Pardes, Bunty Aur Babli, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Youngistaan, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Tevar, Wah Taj and so on.
The Imambada road near Rumi Gate, Lucknow
The wide roads along the Imambadas and historical monuments in the backdrop of the motion pictures give a feel of the old city, revealing the true Lucknow. Old markets and the by-lanes of Chowk showcases add the very desi flavour to the script of films. At times, filmmakers create the city as another city. For instance, in Youngistan, they created a bit of Old Delhi in Lucknow. Likewise, in Ishaqzaade, Lucknow was recreated as another town. Indeed the city’s greenery, unusual surroundings, and hassle-free shooting make it one of the most favourite shooting locations in the country.
Mere Huzoor, Umrao Jaan, and Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Sehar, Umrao Jaan, Daawat-e-Ishq, Youngistan, Bullet Raja, Ya Rabb, Tanu Weds Manu, Always Kabhie Kabhie, Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, are some of the films to be shot here.
Ramnagar Fort, Varanasi
Built with red sandstone, Ramnagar Fort is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. Owing to its rich cultural heritage, the fort has come out as an illustrious shooting destination for several Indian filmmakers. The place has very well sustained its old world charm till date and has managed to catch the fancy of cinematographers for ages. Its scenic locations have been captured in the movies like Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Raanjhanaa etc.
Ghats and lanes of Varanasi
Varanasi is a time portal. The charm of the land is an invariable reverberation which echoes in every nook and corner of the place. The city that seems older than time itself has been immortalized not just in literature but also in films. The enthralling ghats and lanes of Banaras have been vigilantly knit with the themes of the movies that have been shot here.
The films such as Masaan, Banaras, Mukti Bhawan, Jolly LLB 2, Half Girlfriend and many more have effectively captured the serenity and purity of the place.
Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Mehtab Bagh, Agra
With its own small world charm, the city of love-Agra has also been the love of Bollywood for years. The verdant greens and the picturesque settings here have attracted the film industry since the time of Mughal-e-Azam, a cinematic milestone of the 60’s. The sites such as Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Mehtab Bagh across the river Yamuna, in the vicinities of Agra are the favourite shooting spots.
Movies such as Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Jodha Akbar, Tera Jadu Chal Gaya, Tevar, Pardes and many others have been shot in these regions.
Mahmudabad palace, Barabanki
Located in a sprawling feudal manor, this magnificent edifice is the same place where a large portion of the famous Bollywood movie, ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ was shot. Films may have put this idyllic place on the global map but it has a charm that calls on to the spirit of every nature travel lover and the beauty of it lives on for a long time.
Owing to its rustic culture, the Braj region of U.P. too is no more away from the showbiz dreamscape! The Akshay Kumar-starrer Toilet- Ek Prem Katha is an upcoming motivational film to be shot in Lord Krishna’s city. This quirky comedy by the producer Neeraj Pandey is probably the first Bollywood film to be shot in the Holy City of Mathura.
Besides, Morana in Muzaffarnagar has touched the glare of publicity with superstar Salman Khan shooting Sultan here. Similarly, films shot in Bareilly, Aligarh, along with many private properties in the state capital as Ahmed Manzil, Salempur House, and La Martiniere College etc. have efficiently embraced the heat and dust of India’s rapidly urbanizing hinterland. The movies include Dabangg 2, Jaanisaar, Umrao Jaan, Tanu Weds Manu, Ishaqzaade and Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, Gadar and Always Kabhi Kabhi.
Indeed, these bustling towns of U.P. have emerged as big draws for a new breed of Bollywood filmmakers. After all, these are the very destinations that often spark your wanderlust and get you off your couch!