Bollywood: No more sets please!

A new fad seems to be gripping Bollywood. It is no more interested in sets and studios. Rather it would like to venture out to streets and real locations. Bollywood directors are increasingly hitting the streets to capture the raw sights, sounds and feel of real locations.

Most of the films released in the last few weeks like Dhobi Ghat, No One Killed Jessica and Band Baaja Baaraat have been shot in real places.

“The audience finds a connection to the film through the locations. I was very sure I wanted to shoot the film at all real locations. We shot Patiala House on the streets of London, the Gurudwara, the Oval stadium and South Hall,” director Nikhil Advani told medai.

“Though one has to wait for permission, arrange for security, I don’t like to compromise. I make sure I get what I want.”

Shooting at real locations cannot be compared to the sets. So directors are capturing the locality that would help their audience connect with a film more effectively.

Band Baaja Baaraat director Maneesh Sharma says a real location makes a film more visibly distinct, which he was able to accomplish in his first film that is still running in the theatres.

“It was a conscious decision to give a texture and flavor to the film, which I thought if shot in real locations, will communicate with the audience in a better way. I was very clear that I wanted to capture the essence of Delhi very well.

“As it’s about aspirants, the journey between Janakpuri and Sainik Farm had to be visually distinct, which we wanted to shoot in real locations and that’s why I went with it. I wanted the quality of realism in the film,” Sharma said.

The fact that Ranveer Singh was a new face and was debuting with the romantic drama helped Sharma shoot amid heavy traffic on Delhi streets.

“We did lots of candid shooting. For instance, let’s say Bittu and Shruti (Anushka Sharma) are on a bike and thankfully Ranveer not being very known actor by then, we would just ask them to ride the bike behind an Innova. My director of photography and I were sitting in the back seat with a camera and shooting them. We just rode along wherever we wanted.”

High-end equipment makes it easier to shoot a film in real locations, says Sudhir Mishra.

“Technologies are making it easier to go and shoot in real locations. Earlier it was difficult but now with newer kinds of cameras, it’s becoming easier to shoot in real locations. People connect with the stories very well and there is a new breed of actors who merge with the crowd very well,” said Mishra.

How difficult is to handle the crowd?

“If you go to the streets with norms that you are the intruders and not them and if you talk to them politely and if you understand their problem and adjust to it, it’s not much of a problem,” said Mishra.

Not only the posh localities of metros, directors are shooting also in other difficult locations to create the right mood and correct setting. Ace director Mani Ratnam traveled with his cast members like Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Vikram and crew to Athirapally forests in Kerala, Ooty in Tamil Nadu, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata, and the Malshej Ghats in Maharashtra to shoot for Raavan.

He had said: “As a filmmaker, every tool you get to tell the scene better is important. The geography, the lights, is big tools used to tell the story. The film is completely set in the outdoor. So if outdoor has got to play a role, you have to make sure it is helping you to tell the story better. The set gives the mood and correct setting to concentrate on the emotions of characters.”

The film didn’t do well, but the viewers enjoyed breathtaking backdrops.

Even Rahul Dholakia took lots of pain and faced hurdles to shoot Lamhaa with Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu under life-threatening situations in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Kiran Rao’s directorial debut Dhobi Ghat, the city of Mumbai is one of the important characters; so she didn’t hesitate from shooting it in the narrow and crowded Mohammad Ali Road in old Mumbai with her husband Aamir Khan to make the story effective.

“I have tried to show all the facets of the city,” she said.

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