Wednesday December 11, 2019

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)

Next Story

“Success Of Any Film Depends on its Impact and Longevity”, Says Deepika Padukone

Deepika also talked about working with prosthetics and make-up artists to get the look of an acid attack victim right for her upcoming film

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Deepika
Deepika added: "Very often, you come across great stories but you also need a right director to tell the story in an authentic, honest and responsible manner". Wikimedia Commons

Actress Deepika Padukone says the success of any film depends on its impact and longevity in the market.

“I feel that now, more than ever before for me, success of a movie is really about the impact it is able to have on people’s lives. Are we able to change mindsets? Are we able to make an impact? And don’t get me wrong, not every story needs to be hard-hitting. It could be a simple emotion, like joy or love. As long as it makes you feel something, think (about) something, and evoke emotions. I think, for me, that truly is the meter of success. Also, the film should have longevity. A film that I would want to watch 10 years from now, for me, is a success,” said Deepika, at the launch of her upcoming film “Chhapaak”.

The trailer launch was also attended by the film’s director Meghna Gulzar and Deepika’s co-star Vikrant Massey. In the film, Deepika portrays real-life acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal.

Deepika also talked about working with prosthetics and make-up artists to get the look of an acid attack victim right.

“It is so Ironic, even I didn’t know what I would feel when I saw myself in the mirror for the first time (after make-up). I remember that moment very clearly, when we were doing the look test at Fox Studio office. It took me four to five hours for the look, and when I did look at myself in the mirror, I told Meghna that I still felt like myself. Nothing had changed. That is the day I found my character, and I knew what I need to do in this movie. I don’t think we are defined by our external appearances,” she said.

Deepika
Actress Deepika Padukone says the success of any film depends on its impact and longevity in the market. Wikimedia Commons

Talking about taking up such a challenging and gut-wrenching story, Deepika said she found the story inspiring and knew Meghna Gulzar would do justice to the film. “It is not often that you come across a story that inspires you so much, and it’s not about the incident as much as it’s about the triumph over it. I have been extremely fortunate to meet Laxmi Aggarwal. One of the most important things is the marriage between having that story and also having the right person to tell it. I could see the sincerity and the honesty, and I knew I was in good hands,” the actress explained.

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Deepika added: “Very often, you come across great stories but you also need a right director to tell the story in an authentic, honest and responsible manner — especially when you’re narrating a story like this one.”

“Chhapaak is produced” by Deepika Padukone and Meghna Gulzar in collaboration with Fox Star Studios. It is scheduled on January 10. (IANS)