Thursday February 22, 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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‘Remixed songs are looked down upon’

During the press meet, they were also asked about their opinion on the trend of the remixed version of some of the cult songs that have been used in Bollywood films

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The trailer launch of the show is set to celebrate the recreated version of some of the cult songs of Bollywood.
The trailer launch of the show is set to celebrate the recreated version of some of the cult songs of Bollywood.

Singer Sunidhi Chauhan, music director Amit Trivedi and DJ Nucleya — judges of the upcoming digital music show ‘The Remix’, said remixed songs are never given its due respect.

They were present at the trailer launch of the show which is set to celebrate the recreated version of some of the cult songs of Bollywood, here on Wednesday night.

They said through ‘The Remix’ — the first ever OTT musical show on Amazon Prime Video India Original — they are going to give the remixed songs its due respect.

During the press meet, they were also asked about their opinion on the trend of the remixed version of some of the cult songs that have been used in Bollywood films.

Also Read: Best Sunny Leone’s songs which will make you groove

Amit told media: “As a creative person, we feel it is sad that in Bollywood, a lot of remixed songs are happening. As a composer, we really do not want to touch a composition and work on that because that cult song is a vision of the composer.

“In film format, we do not get enough freedom to recreate the song. And the remix songs are not well respected.”

Agreeing upon the point Nucleya said: “The process of remix a song has been looking down upon because mostly the process has not been given enough attention. Re-creating a song is a beautiful process and that is why in this show we have given a format to all the participants who are creating a new version of the song.”

According to Sunidhi, a remixed version of a song could be a beautiful one, if done tastefully.
According to Sunidhi, a remixed version of a song could be a beautiful one, if done tastefully. Wikimedia Commons

According to Sunidhi, a remixed version of a song could be a beautiful one, if done tastefully.

She said: “Even in the recent release of remix songs in Bollywood, I liked some of them, some, I did not. The problem is the term ‘remix’ is used very loosely.”

“Therefore, in our show, all the participants are given chance to make the song sound new and fresh by re-imagining it, changing the musical arrangement and re-create the song.”

Also Read: List Of Best Arijit Singh Songs

However, Amit added: “I think no composer and singer would be interested to do a remix song in Bollywood, that is mainly the demand of producers and music labels; if we are part of the project, we are just doing our job. So I think the question should be asked of the music companies and producers.”

‘The Remix’ will have 10-episodes and will start streaming on Amazon from March 9. (IANS)