“A life in a metro” can’t be imagined without “Good Food” and thereafter a “Highway” drive that runs simultaneously with the “Indian Express”. The role of the media and entertainment industry in India has been huge in our day to day life. Newspapers, magazines and movies are the three most important mediums where from a Monday brunch in a city passes through the same boulevard of tasteless days and whizzes to an exotic weekend getaway OR a hangover Sunday. The front page news mostly becomes a recipe for tea time gossip; the printed glamour world turns out to be the latest fashion; and the two hour motion picture seems to reel our real life somewhere. So basically the media & entertainment industry has influenced us from breakfast to dinner and also kept us awake and aware of the diversified Indian landscape, language, religion, cuisine, dance, music and festival. The Howrah Bridge was the only icon of the city of Kolkata that was captured in Indian cinema till movies like Yuva, Autograph, Kahaani, Bomkesh Bokshi and Gunday happened and presented a better picture of the city. Similarly, the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur was replaced by the Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort in the movies Ajnabee and Rang De Basnati respectively. The rock cut temples of Badami, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, came into the picture when Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha shot a dance sequence, “Dhadang Dhang”, for the movie Rowdy Rathore. Remote villages like Kanuria, which is a few kilometers from Bhuj; Wai, which is approximately 100 kilometers from Pune; Khanyaan in Hoogly district of West Bengal; and Barna which is close to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan… all came to the notice of viewers when filmmakers of movies like Lagaan, Swades, Lootera and Rudali respectively broke the monotony of the dominating Bombay film industry. It is not just the extensive hunt for a picture perfect location that fascinates the Bollywood directors AS in recent times trends show that several regional directors, for a better plot that will go along with the script, are on the move. Veettilekkulla Vazhi (The Way Home), which is a 2010 Malayalam motion picture, is a cross between a travelogue and drama through the most beautiful destinations of India, rolling scenes from Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Ajmer to Delhi and Ladakh. The 1974 Bengali flick, Sonar Kella directed by Satyajit Ray is another beautiful example of an outdoor set in the fort city of Jaisalmer that has pulled in PAN India audience.
Indian cinema, which is no doubt the highest grossing part of the Media & Entertainment industry, has done a lot for the advancement of tourism in India… not only in zeroing several unexplored destinations of India BUT also brightening other key elements.
Nowadays film makers have been smart enough to capture the Indian audience in large numbers by laying bare the hard lifestyle of the common man. Although such realistic movies don’t influence the travel and tourism sector directly, some scenes do manage to capture the eyes of travellers prompting them to travel to India later on. The skyline of Mumbai city as shown in the movie ‘A Wednesday’, where from actor Naseeruddin Shah was operating his mission; the traditional atmosphere and shindoor khela at the time of Durga Puja Festival in Kolkata in the movie ‘Kahaani’; Vidyashankara temple in Sringeri, which is an ancient temple built in the 14th century by Vidyaranya, patron-saint of Harihara and Bukka, the brothers who founded the Vijayanagara empire and backwaters of Lakya Dam in the Kudremukh mountain range in Karnataka shown in the Kannada based movie ‘Mynaa’ AND a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim and boat ride in the Hoogly River in Kolkata in the Bengali feature film, “Abosheshey” are some good examples how certain scenes in a realistic movie indirectly influences the Indian Tourism.
The 1955 Bengali drama film directed by Satyajit Ray, Pather Panchali, is a stark representation of rural life that was shot in Boral, a small village on the outskirts of Kolkata, near Garia in South 24 Parganas. The movie that depicted a harsh village life of a poor family was internationally acclaimed and received several awards. Similarly, Mehboob Khan’s Mother India brought to us several Indian villages like Arthan, Miyagam Dabka, Umra and Bhuing in Gujarat and Igatpuri and Unchgaon in Maharashtra. On the other hand, Amol Paleekar’s Paheli portrayed beautifully some of the villages of the incredible state of royal Rajasthan and its folk culture. If you remember actress Rani Mukherjee’s stepwell scene then I would like to divulge that it was shot in Hadi Rani Ki Baori in Todaraisingh, which is approximately 140 kilometers from Jaipur. Todaraisingh holds a rich cultural heritage and is dotted with several temples, stepwells and lakes. The movie also reveals the historical foreground of Navalgarh that houses the Bala Kila Fort, Roop Niwas Palace and Anandi Lal Podar Haveli. Talking about Rajasthani folk culture… Kalpana Lajmi’s Rudaali and Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor gives a much better picture. The entire plot of Rudaali was shot in Jaisalmer unwrapping the remote Barna village, Khuri Desert and Kuldhara Ruins. Directed by Halitha Shameem the Tamil movie, Poo Varasam Pee Pee, which distinctly limned the summer adventure of three school going kids unravels the picturesque locations of Pollachi and Dharapuram. The Punjabi movie Anhe Ghore Da Daan and Bhojpuri movie Nadiya Ke Paar are some other Indian movies that also uncover the rural plot.
I can’t even forget the entire plot of Peepli Live!
The hardcore city life can be easily seen in many Bollywood flicks like Page 3, Fashion, Life in a Metro, Lunch Box, Shor in the City, Chak De India, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Vicky Donor, Raincoat, Kahaani, Gunday… but what influences the travel and tourism sector is the song “Fanaa” from the movie Yuva that was shot inside the Tantra, a popular discotheque in Kolkata inside the Park Hotel. Likewise, the story of Delhi Belly revolves around different locations of Delhi and the nightlife of Mumbai was brought out clearly in the movie Jane Tu… Ya Jane Na. Well… the peachy romantic sequence of Rani Mukherjee and Vivek Oberoi in the local trains of Mumbai from the movie Saathiya and quirky life of Abhay Deol in the clumsy streets of Paharganj from the movie Dev D clearly shows a distinct picture of two metro cities. Oh! The movie Dharavi, which is based on one of the biggest slums in the world; Dhobi Ghat that reflects another indigenous picture of Mumbai city; the Bengali movie Life in Park Street that truly depicts the day to day life in one of the cosmopolitan places in Kolkata… are some different aspects of city colours that indirectly hurts the emotions of a traveller. There are countless sequences of posh Indian localities that are captured in several Indian films, but amid the city clamour the tram tracks and hand pulled rickshaw in Kolkata, the quaint alleys of Old Delhi and Mumbai Fish Harbour still manage to influence the travel and tourism industry in India through the blazing city lights.
Remember the song ‘panchi nadiya pawan ke jhoke’ from the movie ‘Refugee’? That was extensively shot in some of the unexplored areas of the “Great Rann of Kutch” in Gujarat. The entire movie showcased some of the ancient temples, forts and remote villages tucked in the midst of the Great Rann of Kutch that includes the Banni grasslands, Tera fort village, Lakhpat fort village and Khera fort village. On the other hand, the Tanot Mata Temple in the middle of the Thar Desert was first unveiled in J.P. Dutta’s Border. It is approximately 150 kilometers away from Jaisalmer city and close to the battle site of Longewala of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and is another good example of how the Indian cinema influences the Travel and Tourism sector in India.
After Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se that unwrapped the picturesque Pangong Lake in the song ‘Satrangi re’… several other Bollywood flicks lined up following with Heroes, 3 Idiots, Shakti, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Waqt, Tashan and Fugly. Today, Pangong Lake, which lies at an elevation of 4,250 meters in the Ladakh region, is one of the best places for camping in the Indian Himalayan region. Likewise, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh became a permanent fixture in the tourism map of India after the movie ‘Koyla’ shot some of the scenes for the song ‘Tanhai Tanhai’ here. The song highlighted the Shonga-Tser Lake and Nuranang Falls and the unexplored rugged beauty of the region. Tawang at 3,038 meters is home to India’s largest Tibetan monastery and is also noted for the Sela Pass and Sela Lake.
Coorg is fast turning out to be one of the favourite weekend getaways from Bangalore these days. But it was one of the unexplored destinations in India till the mid 90s. The Kannada film industry has played a pivotal role by filming many regional movies that helped the Indian Tourism to promote Coorg as one of the eco-tourist destinations in India. Several Bollywood flims like Ravaan and Saat Khoon Maaf were shot in Coorg. Today, Coorg is noted for its rich spice and coffee plantations and tourist spots like Tala Cauveri, Bagamandala, Madikeri Fort, Nagarhole National Park, Nisargadhama Forest, Bylakuppe and several waterfalls.
The Malayalam film industry was successful in promoting several unexplored destinations of Kerala. The green paradise of Wayanad became one of the favourite locations for the regional film makers. In 1974 Ramu Karyatt’s Nellu was extensively shot in Wayanad and was the first film to be shot in the region; it was followed by other movies like Panchami in 1976, Indradhanussu in 1979, Varikkuzhi in 1982, Nandanam in 2002, Anyar in 2003 and Pazhassi Raja in 2009. The backwaters of Kerala have been other leading shooting locations for several Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Hindi films. The song ‘Jiya jale’ from the movie Dil Se was entirely shot in Athirapilly Waterfalls and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady. Movies like Bhagyadevatha, Vinaythangi Varavaya and Kuselan were shot in the backwaters of Alleppey. Nishabd is one of the Bollywood flicks that were shot in the rejuvenating greenery of Munnar.
The terracotta temples of Bishnupur and the rural culture of Purulia and Bankura districts of West Bengal were used by several regional filmmakers in their films. Many Bengali, Bhojpuri and Oriya films were shot in this region. Lootera is one such pick from Bollywood that has been shot in Purulia. Satyajit Ray’s Gupi Gayan Bagha Bayan, Hirak Rajar Deshe, Gupi Bagha Phire Elo are the most popular movies in Indian Film history that have been filmed extensively in Purulia and Bankura districts.
There are more than a thousand Indian movies that present a quaint picture of Indian history. Remember the song “Ek lo ek muft” from the movie Guru? That is the location we are talking about. The beautiful piece of architecture in the song is “Badami cave temples” in Karnataka. The song ‘Panchadara Bomma Bomma’ from the Telegu movie, Magadheera, was shot at Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad. The movie also filmed some scenes in Badami and Hampi and yet some scenes in Rajasthan and Gujarat. A song from the Kannada movie, Killadi Kitti, was extensively shot in the ruins of Hampi, which is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in India. Arjun Sajnani’s Agni Varsha is another Indian movie that was entirely shot in Hampi. Another Kannada based movie, Mungaru Male (Pre Monsoon Rain)revisited the lost Gadag style of architecture that originated during the period of the Western Chalukya. Gadag-Betagiri, the twin city in Karnataka houses some of the historical temples like the Trikuteshwara temple complex, Kasivisvesvara temple, Lakkundi, Doddabasappa Temple at Dambal and Amriteshwara temple at Annigeri.
If you can remember… the Khajuraho Temple Complex was beautifully depicted in the movie Kamasutra – A Tale of Love. The hit song of the Dev Anand’s blockbuster ” Johny Mera Naam” was shot in the ruins of Nalanda University and lush green hillocks of Rajgir in the early 1970s. For a moment if you can recall the house of Aishwarya Rai in the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam… then you would remember the Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi in Gujarat. The blockbuster movie also had several other scenes that grabbed the attention of travellers like the Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer – where Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan dreams about their marriage and Orchard Palace, Gondal in Gujarat – when Ajay Devgn drags Aishwarya Rai.
The cities that constitute the Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur… became the second home for Indian cinema. Rang De Basanti, Delhi Belly, Delhi 6, Vicky Donor, No One Killed Jessica, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Band Baja Barat, Yeh Saali Zindagi, Love Sex aur Dhoka and Rockstar are some of the noted Bollywood flicks that have been shot in some of the major heritage sites of Delhi. Of them the India Gate, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb were the major spots. Well… the song ‘Bol Na Halke Halke’ from the movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was beautifully picturized in the major heritage sites of Delhi as well as the Taj Mahal. Again the song ‘Dhunki’ is shot against the amazing backdrop of the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. In Subhash Ghai’s Pardes, Fatehpur Sikri, which is an hour’s drive from Agra and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was used as the backdrop for several scenes, especially for the song ‘Do Dil’. The film fraternity is in love with Jaipur too. The song ‘Bholi Bhali Ladki’ from the movie Sabse Bada Khiladi was entirely shot in Jaipur’s Birla Mandir… whereas major part of the movie ‘Umrao Jaan’ was shot in City Palace, Jaipur. In 2009, Salman Khan starrer “Veer” was shot at the Amber Fort; and Ashutosh Gowarikar’s “What’s Your Raashee?” was shot at Shiv Vilas.
The Lake Palace, Udaipur, which is now one of the luxury hotels in India, also paved its way into Indian cinema. Movies like Yaadein and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani were shot here. The heritage city of Udaipur was also captured in several other Bollywood movies like Ram Leela, Guide, Gaddaar, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Khuda Gawah and more. The Gateway of India and Victoria Terminus in Mumbai became the two landmarks of Indian cinema whenever the filmmakers think of a shooting location in Mumbai. Similarly, the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata is a major attraction for the regional filmmakers as well as hindi films.
Again there is an endless list of movies that were shot in some of the popular hill stations in India. The major locations are Gulmarg and Srinagar in Kashmir, Manali, Dalhousie and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Nainital in Uttarakhand, Darjeeling in West Bengal, Ooty in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad and Munnar in Kerala.
The unforgettable affair of the legendary actor Shammi Kapoor with Kashmir is truly a tribute to Indian Tourism. Songs like ‘Yahoo’ in which he slides down the snow-capped mountains or ‘Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra’ in which he tries to woo Sharmila Tagore while they riding on shikaras on the famous Dal Lake… as well as many other songs from movies like Tumse Achha Kaun Hai, Andaz, Kashmir Ki Kali or Junglee – were shot in the picturesque Kashmir Valley. Veering towards some of the latest Bollywood flicks, the song ‘Socho ke jheelon ka Sheher Ho’ from Mission Kashmir, ‘Madno’ from Lamhaa, ‘Katiya’ from Rockstar, ‘Ishq wala love’ from Student of the Year and ‘Jiya Re’ from Jab Tak Hai Jaan reflects the grandeur of Kashmir. Well the popular songs, ‘Jab Hum Jawan Honge’ from Betab and ‘Jadu Sa chanay laga’ from Dil Kya Karey were extensively shot in Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
Part of the 1966 blockbuster Tamil movie Anbe Vaa was shot in some locations of Himachal Pradesh that signifies how regional filmmakers gets drawn to outdoor locations. The recent Bollywood blockbuster, Highway is another good example that has influenced the Himachal Pradesh Tourism by promoting the remote Sangla and Spiti Valley. There again, the song ‘Yeh Ishq Haaye’ from Jab We Met has beautifully depicted the Leh-Manali Highway. The movie also has been filmed in parts of Manali and Shimla, the two most popular hill stations in Himachal Pradesh noted for their natural beauty. The heritage building of Naggar Castle in Kullu district has also been shown in this movie. Some other notable Indian movies that were shot in Himachal Pradesh are Heena, Roja, Taal, Krrish, Lootera, Desamuduru, and Simla Special.
Nainital came to the notice of Indian cinema long back in the year 1971 when Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh were seen boating in the Naini Lake for the song ‘Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar’. Thereafter several Bollywood songs like ‘Dil Hai Bahaar Ke’ from Waqt and ‘Pehli Pehli Bar Mohabaat’ from Sirf Tum were shot in Nainital. The Naini Lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Nainital and a boat ride in Naini Lake is one of the major things to do in Nainital.
Darjeeling, which is another popular hill station in India, is also a notable filming destination for Indian filmmakers. Popular Bollywood movies like Aradhana, Mausam, Barfi and Via Darjeeling were majorly shot in Darjeeling. Guess what… again it’s the legendary actor, Shammi Kapoor who shot for the song ‘Main Chali Main Chali’ in Darjeeling for the movie Professor. The song ‘Dil Hai Mera Deewana’ from the movie Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman was also shot in the streets of Darjeeling. St Paul’s School in Darjeeling has also been a popular shooting location for several Indian movies. One of the movies that shows the school is the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Main Hoon Na.
Mani Ratnam’s Geethanjali, which is a Telegu movie, dramatically brought Ooty, which is one of the popular hill stations in South India, to the notice of viewers as a honeymoon destination. Summer in Bethlehem, which is a Malayalam movie, was filmed against the backdrop of forest, hills, and farms of Ooty, whereas the Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit starrer Saajan was extensively shot in the greenscape of Ooty. In the movie Hum, some of the most beautiful scenes were shot in the bungalows and lodges that are a legacy of the British Raj.
India cinema’s one of the boldest films that you can recall is Bipasa Basu and John Abraham starrer Jism. The sensual and sizzling tracks, ‘Jadoo Hai Nesha Hai’ and ‘Awarpaan’ from the movie were shot in the serene Paradise Beach in Pondicherry. Following the sequence, from Sunny Leone starrer Jism 2… the song ‘Maula’ was entirely shot in Nilaya Hermitage, which is one of the best hotels in Goa that is located in Anjuna. The Bollywood classic, Sagar, starring Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia brings out the isolated Aksa Beach and Manori Beach in Mumbai.
Goa is one of the popular destinations for Bollywood movie shooting. Fardeen Khan and Urmila Matondkar starrer Pyar Tune Kya Kia was extensively shot in Dona Paula and Miramar. A few scenes from the award winning Bollywood flick, Dil Chahta Hai, were shot in Sinquerim and Anjuna… the two most popular beaches in Goa. From Ram Gopal Verma’s Rangeela… the pleasant track ‘tanha tanha’ was shot in the popular Anjuna Beach, which is also known as the ‘Hippies Paradise’. Some other notable Bollywood movies shot in Goa are Josh, Golmaal, Dhoom and Pukar.
A song sequence from the movie Rasputin, which is a Malayalam romantic comedy flick, was entirely shot in Varcala Beach in the Baywatch style. Varcala Beach is one of the notable beaches in Kerala that is famed for hosting several Ayurvedic and Spa resorts. The Kappil Lake and Anjengo Fort are some other major attractions in and around Varcala.
Recently filmmakers have decided to add some spice to their movies by including adventure activities in the mountains like trekking, skiing, mountaineering, camping and motor biking AND beach activities like parasailing, scuba diving and motor boating. Some Bollywood flicks like Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Lakshya, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Hindustan ki Kasam, Pyar Tune Kya Kia and Rangeela promoted a number of adventure activities in India. The movie Kaal… is one such examples from Indian cinema that has been dedicated to wildlife safari in India. The movie has been extensively shot in Corbett National Park, which is one of the major national parks in India and is a home to several endangered species.
I could recollect 4 such films that dilate on the dark side of Indian culture. Once again it is Rudali that reflects on the life of a female weeper who publicly express grief on behalf of family members who are not permitted to display any emotion due to their social status. Then it is Sushil Rajpal’s Antardwand that is based on Pakaruah shaadi or Jabaria shaadi, which is a phenomenon common in the western parts of Bihar, and eastern Uttar Pradesh, wherein eligible bachelors are abducted by the bride’s family and later forcefully married, to avoid heavy dowry costs. Thirdly, the Marathi movie Jogawa gives a glimpse of caste, religion and identity. And lastly, the Bengali movie Sati directed by Aparna Sen reveals the social funeral practice among some Indian communities. Glimpses of the film Sati can also be noticed in the movie Mangal Pandey: The Rising. (Please note that the practice of Sati is now abolished in India.) A movie like Papilio Buddha, directed by Jayan K. Cherain reveals the true colour of Indian casteism. The movie focuses on the atrocities committed against Dalits, women and the environment.
Movies like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Monsoon Wedding, Vivah and Band Baja Barat brings out the title ‘big fat Indian wedding’ into the mind of viewers. The typical Indian wedding style is yet another attraction for international travellers. On the other hand, movies showcasing major Indian festivals like Durga Puja, Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid and Diwali are also huge contributors to Indian Tourism. Satyajit Ray’s Joi Baba Felunath and Nayak AND Rituporno Ghosh’s Hirer Angti, Utsav and Antarmahal are all based on the Durga Puja Festival. Some Bollywood flicks like Sholay, Holi, Darr, Baghban and Silsila highlight the festival of Holi… which is one of the major festivals in India. Songs like ‘Raang Barse’, ‘Holi Ke Din’ and ‘Ang se ang’ are the best examples of how Indian cinema inspires Indian Tourism. Likewise, songs like ‘Sadda Dil Vi Tu’ from the movie Any Body Can Dance; ‘Deva Shree Ganesha’ from the movie Agnepath; ‘Morya Re’ from the movie Don: The Chase Begins; and ‘Sindoor lal chadayo’ from Vaastav highlight the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India
Thus Indian cinema has played a great role in promoting Indian culture, landscape and heritage among travellers who are keen to capture Indian Tourism. Starting from Alam Ara that centres on an imaginary, historical royal family in the kingdom of Kumarpur… to 2 States that is based on the cultural clash between a Punjabi family and South Indian family… Indian cinema has been able to influence Indian Tourism both directly and indirectly.