Gone are the days when most Bollywood beauties defied zero temperatures to drape themselves in chiffon sarees for a romantic number shot in the background of a snow-capped Swiss mountain.
Tired of the usual visual clichés of now-too-familiar London Bridge, London-eye, Big Ben, Statue of Liberty, Swiss countryside and its mountains and the beaches of Thailand and Mauritius, filmmakers are now hunting for more exotic locations.
Countries like Latvia, Poland, Germany, Brazil, Peru, Morocco, Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkey and Mexico are fast replacing destinations like New York, London, Bangkok, Switzerland, Mauritius and Paris.
These countries too have come to realize the power of Bollywood in boosting tourism and trade and for Indian filmmakers, it is a win-win situation as the red carpet comes with lucrative co-production deals.
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who has a huge fan-following in Germany, is shooting his film Don II there. Incidentally, Don II is also the first major Indian film to benefit from an agreement on the promotion of co-production between India and Germany, which was signed in Berlin some years ago.
The state-owned German Film Promotion Fund will support the project with one million euros while the Media Board Berlin-Brandenburg will contribute another one million euros. Director Farhan Akhtar is set to capture some of Berlin’s prominent landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Gendarmen Market, Olympia stadium and East Side Gallery, the last remaining part of the Berlin Wall, which is now a museum.
Shah Rukh, whose breakthrough in Germany came through Dil Se, turned on his charm by saying, “Berlin is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen… I have been here for two weeks and I don’t feel I’m working. I’m just happy to be in Berlin. I love it. If you told me to stand up on a tourist bus and dance, I would do it.”
In return, the country hopes that Shah Rukh’s presence will lure other Bollywood filmmakers and tourists to Germany. Saif Ali Khan became the first Bollywood producer to shoot his spy thriller, Agent Vinod, in Latvia. Khan along with girlfriend Kareena Kapoor completed a grueling two-month shoot in the East European country.
“The landscape in Latvia is exceptionally breath taking. We shot in many different locations across the different cities. We got access to some heritage structures, like old ruins, churches and museums. We tried to cover as much variety as the landscape offers,” said director Sriram Raghavan. Saif now plans to extend the visual landscape further by shooting in Moscow, Morocco and Paris.
Similarly, Zoya Akhtar packed the A-list star cast of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara for a long shooting schedule in Spain. Zoya’s second film, a road movie, stars Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar and will feature Spain’s countryside prominently.
Likewise, Shankar shot his Rajnikanth-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer sci-fi Robot on a number of locations like Peru and Brazil. Shankar and cinematographer R. Rathnavelu went on a world tour for location-hunt. They visited Vienna, Rio de Janerio and Hanoi to pick up suitable location.
Shankar had included the Seven Wonders of the World in his 1998 Aishwarya Rai-starrer Jeans.
Kites may not have worked wonders for Hrithik but director Anurag Basu, who shot Gangster in South Korea, managed to make a visually captivating film by shooting it in New Mexico and Arizona. Even Rajkumar Santoshi could not resist the beauty of Turkey in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. While the entire film was shot in Ooty, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, the song Tu jaane na was separately shot in Aspendos, Perga and Pamukkale of Turkey.
Dabangg may have charmed the audience with its rustic setting but the producers got special permission to shoot Chori kiya re jiya song in the Dubai metro station.
Films like Tashan, Chalte Chalte and Wanted were shot in Greece.
Even Yash Chopra, who is known for popularizing Switzerland in India through his romances, opted for sizzling Brazilian beaches for his home production Dhoom 2.
Kabir Khan convinced John Abraham and Arshad Warsi to shoot in war-ravaged Afghanistan for Kabul Express. The last Bollywood movie, to be shot in the disturbed region was Amitabh Bachchan starrer Khuda Gawah.