Sunday May 20, 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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Sonam Kapoor Shows Her Gratitude Towards Everyone

Sharing a moment from their wedding day, Sonam, who now goes by 'SonamKAhuja' on Instagram, wrote: "Our family is our strength."

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Sharing a moment from their wedding day, Sonam, who now goes by 'SonamKAhuja' on Instagram, wrote:
Sonam Kapoor (Wikimedia Commons)

Actress Sonam Kapoor has expressed gratitude to her family members, friends and to everyone else who made her “spectacular” wedding to Anand Ahuja special.

Sonam on Friday took to Instagram with two separate posts — one thanking her family members and another thanking the team that spent days in ensuring the actress and her groom’s dream wedding turned into a reality.

Sharing a moment from their wedding day, Sonam, who now goes by ‘SonamKAhuja’ on Instagram, wrote: “Our family is our strength.”

She went on to thank her mother Sunita Kapoor for being “the best mom in the whole wide world for making this happen in such a spectacular fashion”, father Anil Kapoor for being “such an amazing host and loving Anand and I so unconditionally”, her younger sister Rhea for being her “best friend” and “partner”; and her actor brother Harvarshdhan for being the “knight in shining armour”.

 Actress Sonam Kapoor has expressed gratitude to her family members, friends and to everyone else who made her "spectacular" wedding to Anand Ahuja special.
Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja

“Also to all our friends and family who made it from far and wide at such short notice Anand and I love each and every one of you for loving us enough to want to make it for our big day! Love you all,” she added.

Also Read: Mika Says Its Difficult to Make Salman and SRK Dance Together 

The “Khoobsurat” actress, who is now gearing up for a walk at the Cannes Film Festival red carpet, also acknowledged the effort put in by everyone else for making the wedding “the most magical two days of our lives”. From the wedding planner to the photographer to the make-up team, the designers to those who made the mementos, her PR team, the media and more — Sonam wrote a thank you note for all.

Sonam and Anand got married on May 8 in an Anand Karaj ceremony, later followed by a star-studded reception, which saw the who’s-who of Bollywood. Names like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan, Ranveer Singh, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Alia Bhatt and Kareena Kapoor Khan attended the event. (IANS)