Monday September 23, 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

Influx Of New Talent and Faces In Film Industry

There is an influx of new talent is resulting in better movie scripts and acting skills in the film industry

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entertainment, Bollywood, talent, filmmaking, cinema, box-office
Every generation since the beginning of the Indian film Industry has seen a fresh set of people finance it. PIxabay

There is an influx of new talent is resulting in better movie scripts and acting skills in the film industry. But, there was a phase not long ago when every big named corporate house backed only Page 3 makers who had rapport with stars. The corporate houses bankrolled projects, not content, blindly. So, okay, if you had made a name even as a choreographer or belonged to a family with antecedents or were in anyway close to a star, you were set for multi-crore projects from a corporate house.

These corporate houses had all the money and no idea of filmmaking. They enrolled marketing graduates. And, filmmaking and marketing were not like selling soap or a biscuit brand. These corporate houses backed names, not scripts or content.

So, if had contacts, you get a two or three-film contract and a budget of, say, 100 crore. If you are Farah Khan you get crores to make a heist film, in mofussil areas which don’t even cost much in the making. If your company is owned by, say, a star like Ajay Devgn, you get 100 crore to make three films. Nobody knew nor cared that the content is what sells. There were ample such examples.

Some of those who were not really filmmakers made money, and the corporate houses which bankrolled such projects were bound to suffer. Most of them have vanished save for the odd one. Even those who still operate have withdrawn from financing Hindi films. They had gotten into something they knew nothing about!

Since these corporates backed only names and superstars, new talent was ignored. They wanted a Khan or a Hrithik, no less! Soon, the negative returns started. First the so called makers let them down and, resultantly, the stars.

It has been a long time since these stars delivered a hit. The stakes were big and the returns poor. One can use the paid media to make a film look like a hit. But, a company’s balance sheet does not write what the paid media writes. So, the corporate houses have withdrawn but, in the process, spoilt the budgeting system of filmmaking in general by throwing monies left right and centre thoughtlessly.

The thing is that, even the non-corporate production houses like Sajid Nadiadwala, BR Films, Karan Johar and T Series et al felt more secure with superstars. But, soon they realised that it was time to balance their act. All such big banners took to promoting new talent and making small or mid-range films. One of the reasons for these makers to divert to new talent was that the superstars had all become producers of their own films or were promoting relatives, and the corporate houses were the suckers who were willing to back a superstar. It did not matter who the maker was!

Karan Johar gave break to three new faces, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra. Sajid Nadiadwala gave break to Tiger Shroff, and it worked. Yash Raj Films gave break to Ranveer Singh, followed by many others. In fact, these banners created a talent bank of their own. Most of the actors launched by these non-corporate ownership production houses are today thriving because of this new breed.

entertainment, Bollywood, talent, filmmaking, cinema, box-office
The filmmaker not having big stars and big budgets to count on have started working on new themes and interesting scripts. Flickr

Here is a look at the successful films delivered by the new breed of actors as compared to superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. While the score for Shah Rukh and Salman is rather depressing with their last few films, Aamir films come after long intervals. He gave his last hit in “Dangal” three years back. Aamir is the only one who may still continue to enjoy success.

However, the theatres need a regular flow all 52 weeks a year to feed their multiple screens. The superstars of their time could deliver less than half a dozen films a year. Against this, the big production houses wanted to work with only the established superstars. They loved high stakes since it was not a personal risk, they were bankrolled by corporate moneybags.

The artistes too realised that they did not need a producer and that the big daddies of film finance were banking on them, mainly. The producer was a middleman just because he had access to the star. The stars decided to make their own films. Turn self, brother, brother-in-law, wife or other near ones the producer.

When the big banners realised they needed a secondary line-up of production, some of them launched parallel banners. UTV Spot Boy for example, Balaji’s ALT Entertainment and so on. Now, spot boy used to be the lowest rung or help in a film production sets. His job was to serve tea and run errands! Was making films with other actors and not the superstars so embarrassing?

Since the Khans have failed to deliver, you see a sudden outburst of talent which was around but dormant for some time. A 100-crore grosser is basically a media myth hyped thanks to PR-fed reporters.

What is a 100 crore film when the budget of a superstar film is more than that and when a 100 crore only means, say, a 45-crore take-home for the maker? The cinema chains don’t run films for free and 100 crore includes their share plus distribution expenses.

Now, the concept of 100 crore has a totally different dimension altogether. If one considers the kind of films and the actors who carried them in last couple or three years, not surprisingly, the talent and scripts have scored, not the stars.

Not only the new stars, but also some of the other stars who were considered second-rung by the major filmmakers — Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor — have now come into their own. While John has had three notable hits in “Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran”, “Satyamev Jayate” and “Batla House”, Shahid Kapoor delivered his career best “Kabir Singh”. Hrithik got a hit after a long gap with “Super 30”. Ranbir got his much needed hit, “Sanju”, while also being lauded for his performance in the film. Ranveer Singh, who has been lucky to work mostly with established banners and successful directors, retained his position with “Padmaavat” and “Gully Boy”. Ajay Devgn continues to hold his own with “De De Pyaar De”.

entertainment, Bollywood, talent, filmmaking, cinema, box-office
One of the reasons for these makers to divert to new talent was that the superstars had all become producers of their own films or were promoting relatives. Wikimedia Commons

The biggest gainer over the last two to three years is Akshay Kumar. During the current and the last year, he has to his credit as many as four hits – “Pad Man”, “Golda, “Mission Mangal” and “Kesari”. That’s a 100 per cent success ratio.

The filmmaker not having big stars and big budgets to count on have started working on new themes and interesting scripts. This has opened up opportunities for fresh talent, resulting in a line-up box office successes. Between them, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal, Tiger Shroff, Sushant Singh Rajput, Kartik Aaryan, Rajkummar Rao etc are delivering hits on regular basis. Not to forger the female stars, Alia Bhatt, Kriti Sanon, Shraddha Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Bhumi Pednekar etc. They account for almost half of the successful films of the past two years. And, what is more, this lot has been able to establish connect with the young moviegoer.

ALSO READ: India To Become Global Steel Manufacturing Hub By 2031

These new stars have made the old adage ‘paisa vasool film’ relevant again.

@The Box Office

* This week sees the release of “Prassthanam”, “The Zoya Factor” and “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”. Surprising that producers like Sanjay Dutt and Sunny Deol should decide to release their films in what is considered the dullest period of the year. Traditionally, the Shradh period was considered inauspicious for new films to release. But, even if the producers concerned don’t believe in tradition, but a lot of the viewers do, and movie going is not on their agenda.

* Besides, the festival of Navratri is just one week away. The festival is celebrated and rituals followed during these nine days like fasting etc. Also, the performance of Ram Leela rates high on viewer’s list.

* Not surprisingly, the three films have met with a very weak reception on the opening day.

* “Dream Girl” is a hit. The film has collected a solid Rs 70 crore in its opening week.

* “Section 375” remained poor, managing to collect just about Rs 9 crore in its first week.

* “Chhichhore” has complemented its excellent first week collection of Rs 66 crore with an impressive second week figures of Rs 39 crore. (IANS)