Watching an Imtiaz Ali film is a double whammy – you journey through the most quaint and beautiful places across the world, even as you accompany the characters on their inner journey to redemption. No wonder he’s a fave when time and pocket do not permit a leisurely vacation!
Fact is, Imtiaz and his ilk have literally taken the Hindi film viewer places that are way off the beaten Bollywood track. If on the one hand films like Newton and Hindi Medium remain gloriously rooted in their earthiness, the snazzy action-thrillers are literally touring the world.
Film locations today are a far cry from the de rigeur slopes of Kashmir or Switzerland, or the familiar skyline of Paris, at the most. These staples of the Sixties and Seventies have made way for a range of exotic destinations to feast our peepers on. From Corsica, to Iceland, to Brazil, to Turkey, Hindi films have been there, done that, thank you very much!
Back in 2006, Dhoom: 2 gave us more to ogle at than its stunning lead pair, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan. It was for the first time that a major Hindi film was shot in Brazil. The famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro, the stunning verdant countryside, all were captured in their natural glory in this YashRaj film. And in case you’re wondering about that thrilling opening train chase, well that was the deserts of Namibia, no less!
Dhoom: 3 pushed the envelope further. Shot in Chicago and other parts of the United States, the excitement warmed up further in Zurich and Ticino, Switzerland where the climax was filmed. In fact, the climactic scene was shot at the famous arch dam, Contra Dam (commonly known as the Verzasca Dam), which became a popular bungee jumping venue after a James Bond stuntman jumped off it in the opening scene of the 1995 film GoldenEye.
The glamorous multi-starrer Race included scenes in South Africa and UAE, while Race 2 shifted the action to even more desirable destinations including Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey and Lefkose, Northern Cyprus. Lots of eye candy here, besides the obvious Deepika, Saif, Jacqueline and John!
The upcoming Race 3 will have Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez steaming up the beaches of Pattaya, Thailand, followed by some hijinks on the snazzy tracks of Abu Dhabi.
Action-thrillers are evidently best portrayed in real life locations abroad. Kabir Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger was shot at a succession of stunning locations such as Dublin (Ireland), Istanbul (Turkey) and Havana (Cuba). The sequel, Tiger Zinda Hai was shot across several international destinations as well. Director Ali Abbas Zafar had shared, “Certain landscapes needed to become a part of the film, so we had to go to Austria to get the snow-covered mountains.” In Morocco, crucial fight sequences of horseback riding were filmed. “The country's landscape and topography bring a certain texture to these sequences,” opined Zafar. Abu Dhabi provided the ideal desert terrain to create larger than life action drama sequences, while Greece was the picture-perfect location for the celebratory anthem ‘Swag Se Karenge Sabka Swagat…’.
Shah Rukh and Kajol romancing in the mustard fields of Punjab in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is an iconic memory. For Dilwale however, the pair travelled to the Sólheimasandur Beach in the south of Iceland. Their ‘Gerua…’ the song was even filmed amidst the ruins of a broken plane! Dilwale was a dud at the b.o. but it was still easy on the eye, being shot in Romania and Bulgaria.
Saif Ali Khan’s Agent Vinod did not break any records at the turnstiles either but it did make history of sorts for being the first film to be shot in the splendid city of Latvia. Speaking about the beautiful Eastern European country, director Sriram Raghavan had said, “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.”
Occasionally, films also cover the variety of cultures that different countries offer. Zoya Akhtar did it in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, set in Spain. The film offered mouth-watering glimpses of assorted adventures in Spain like deep sea diving, running with the bulls and skydiving along with the famous Tomatina festival. The 2011 film actually boosted Spanish tourism from India by 32 percent that year, especially at its on-shoot locations!
Filmmakers are constantly exploring fresh locations to better present their stories and draw in audiences. Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar moved the action in Don 2 to Germany and won appreciation.
Director Kabir Khan actually headed off to strife-torn Afghanistan to shoot his Kabul Express with John Abraham and Arshad Warsi.
If Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar,'starring Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri, was shot in the archaic city of Prague, Czech Republic, his Tamasha treated us to the picturesque beauty of Corsica, France.
Hrithik and Katrina romanced against the exquisite blue waters of Santorini, Greece in Bang Bang, while Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do took us to diverse countries—from Tunisia to Italy to Turkey—all for the price of a movie ticket!
Karan Johar’s production, Brahmastra is being shot in Bulgaria and we can bet it will be sensational.
Even Himesh Reshammiya plumped for the bygone architecture of lost city, Petra for his Kajraare. The film couldn’t be salvaged but hey, he can crow that his song ‘Kajra Kajra Kajraare…’ was filmed at Al Khazneh, the ancient treasury, which was also seen in the Harrison Ford thriller, Indiana Jones and the Crusade!