Saturday August 18, 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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Archaeological Sites Dating Back Thousands of Years Found Around Britain, Thanks to the Heat

The archaeologists are mapping the sites to determine the significance of the remains beneath and how best to protect them.

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A view shows parched grass from the lack of rain in Greenwich Park, backdropped by the Royal Museums Greenwich and the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district, during what has been the driest summer for many years in London
A view shows parched grass from the lack of rain in Greenwich Park, backdropped by the Royal Museums Greenwich and the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district, during what has been the driest summer for many years in London. VOA

Britain’s hottest summer in decades has revealed cropmarks across the country showing the archaeological sites of Iron Age settlements, Roman farms and even Neolithic monuments dating back thousands of years, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Cropmarks — patterns of shading in crops and grass seen most clearly from the air — form faster in hot weather as the fields dry out, making this summer’s heat wave ideal for discovering such sites.

Archaeologists at the public body Historic England have been making the most of the hot weather to look for patterns revealing the ancient sites buried below, from Yorkshire in the north down to Cornwall in the southwest.

Archeology , Neolithic artefacts. england
Neolithic remains (representational image). Wikimedia

“We’ve discovered hundreds of new sites this year spanning about 6,000 years of England’s history,” said Damian Grady, aerial reconnaissance manager at Historic England.

“Each new site is interesting in itself, but the fact we’re finding so many sites over such a large area is filling in a lot of gaps in knowledge about how people lived and farmed and managed the landscape in the past,” he said.

Also Read: Britain Fully Committed to Ensuring Iran Nuclear Deal

The archaeologists are mapping the sites to determine the significance of the remains beneath and how best to protect them. While some may be significant enough to merit national protection from development, local authorities or farmers may be left to decide what to do at other sites.

“We’ll hopefully get the help of farmers to help protect some of these undesignated sites,” Grady said. (VOA)