Sunday December 16, 2018

Mandawa: Rajasthan town’s havelis and forts attract Bollywood filmmakers

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By Sugandha Rawal

Mandawa (Rajasthan): Away from fancy foreign locales, this small but culturally rich town in Rajasthan is attracting Bollywood filmmakers with its rustic essence, quaint surroundings, havelis exuding old-world charm and intriguing maze-like by-lanes. For Salman Khan’s “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, parts of Mandawa were used to give a ‘look’ of Pakistan.

The movie is about how a man discovers love during his journey from India to Pakistan, and to add to its visual appeal, director Kabir Khan panned his cameras in the Kashmir Valley, Delhi and Mandawa.

Remember the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Paheli”, the journey song “Hum jo chalne lage hai” from “Jab We Met” and the “Tharki chokro” track from “PK”? Those were also filmed in the little town, which is part of the Shekhawati region and is dotted with forts, havelis and museums.

It is this bucolic essence of life in Mandawa, 270 km from the national capital, which is making filmmakers ditch fancy foreign locations.

Sandeep Singh, who helps filmmakers scout locations and arrange shootings in Mandawa, said: “Mandawa is becoming popular among directors for its natural locale, cheap production cost, no star-struck crowd, calm life with people emphasizing on their day-to-day work rather than crowding around vanity vans.”

The town’s beauty – which lies in appealing elements like golden yellow mustard fields, long winding roads, and gentle wind whistling in the ears – mesmerized the “Dabangg” star too.

Brunnen westl. von Mandawa
A water-well in Mandawa.

“I was shooting in Mandawa…it is such a beautiful city. When we were shooting there and wanted to watch a movie, Arbaaz’s (Khan) movie ‘Dolly Ki Doli’, the entire unit had to travel for 1 hour and 15 minutes because there was just one theater,” said Salman, who attracted fans galore outside the theatre when he went there.

Salman’s “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui also feels Rajasthan is full of “shooting-friendly destinations”, as the “locales are very beautiful and good”.

For the film, one of the village’s havelis became a Pakistani jail to lodge Salman’s character and an open field with long grass turned into the Indo-Pak border area. Sand dunes also added to the film’s visual background.

Mandawa is however not a new-found shooting destination for Bollywood filmmakers. Movies like “Zed Plus”, “Sooper Se Ooper”, “Kachche Dhaage”, “Love Aaj Kal”, “Shuddh Desi Romance” and “Manorama Six Feet Under” were also filmed there.

Even Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra chose Mandawa for parts of his yet-to-release “Mirzya”.

But, largely, the locals seemed ignorant of the stardom of Bollywood stars.

On a visit this IANS correspondent met a ‘chaiwala’ (tea-seller), who narrated how he had failed to recognize Aamir and his wife Kiran Rao and treated them as any other tourists, only to be stumped by the actor himself. Now, he has a memory for a lifetime and a selfie with the star, hanging at his shop. And he flaunts it with pride.

Singh notes that people’s life is not hindered by the influx of stars and film crews as locals are “enjoying the spotlight”. But outsiders and fans from other places thronging the area to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars do create chaos.

With filmmakers increasingly looking towards the small town, it’s turning out to be profitable for villagers. “There is a boost in income for people as they get more work on the set with film crews, and even more hotels have cropped up with time,” Singh said.

Haweli Mandawa

Who aids filmmakers is a middleman, who knows the language and has a personal rapport with people in authority.

Singh described that once from his end, the photographs of the locations are sent to the movie’s crew, the director and cameraman come for a recce. After finalizing the spots, all formalities are taken care of.

“The owners of havelis and other properties are supportive, but have just one condition : that no damage should be caused,” said Singh.

Also, most shootings here are mainly held in February and March when the weather is pleasant. Otherwise, the scorching sun keeps the stars away!

(IANS)

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Rahul Gandhi Hints Rajasthan CM Issue Sorted

Pilot reportedly has put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief

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Rahul Gandhi
Image source: wordpress.com

In a sign that the leadership question in Rajasthan has been settled, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday posted his photograph with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, both contenders for the Chief Minister’s post, as party sources hinted that Gehlot could be the party’s choice for the top post.

The photograph of the smiling leaders had a caption “United Colours of Rajasthan!”, without giving any hint as to who will be the Chief Minister. An official announcement is expected in the evening.

Gandhi’s tweet capped hectic consultations with Gehlot, who appears set to return as Chief Minister in Rajasthan, and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot, who put up his claim strongly.

Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, and Pilot reached Gandhi’s residence within minutes of each other on Friday. A decision is expected to be announced on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting, Gehlot took a veiled dig at Pilot saying that the party unit had already left the decision on Gandhi and it was not the time to express individual choices.

“We have given the duty to the High Command. Let it decide who is to be given what responsibility. If I say my choice is this, it is not time for that. The time is to strengthen the Congress, see how its graph goes up.

“If Congress is strong, everyone will be empowered and we prove to be useful in meeting the objectives of the 2019 elections. This alone should be our thinking,” Gehlot said.

He said a resolution had been passed by newly elected MLAs in Rajasthan authorising the High Command to take a decision.

“Whether it is Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, once a resolution is passed, the decision of the Congress President should be acceptable to all. This is what our workres, MLAs and people expect,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul hints Rajasthan CM issue settled.

He said winning elections in the three Hindi heartland states was a big achievement and that it all started with a strong performance of the Congress in Gujarat under Gandhi’s leadership.

“(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (BJP President) Amit Shah have lost their aura. They have not been able to recover due to which we won elections in the three states,” he said.

Gehlot had played an active role in formulating the party’s campaign strategy in Gujarat.

Both Pilot and Gehlot had separate meetings with Gandhi on Thursday.

The meetings came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants.

The picture — akin to the one on Friday — carried the line “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time – Leo Tolstoy.”

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Party sources said Rahul Gandhi was keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.

Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on external legislative support.

Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi on Thursday, appealed to party workers to maintain peace and that he would welcome any decision taken by the party.

Pilot reportedly has put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief. (IANS)