Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gujarat catches fancy of Bollywood.

AHMEDABAD: The trend that started with Aamir Khan's 'Lagan' continues with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela'. Gujarat, especially Kutch and its vast vistas, has become a favourite haunt for many Bollywood filmmakers. There have been over a dozen films, including Bollywood flicks and ad movies from Mumbai, shot in Gujarat in the past two years.

"Barring snow capped mountains of Himalayas, Gujarat has everything - from thick green forest to semi-arid meadows, desert landscape, mountains and coastal beauty. There are so many unexplored places that can give a splendid delight to the viewers when shot," said veteran Bollywood cinematographer Amitabha Singh.

Amitabha, who produced 'The Good Road', the movie that went to the Oscars last year, shot his directorial debut 'The trip' in the forest of Dang and Sara in Valsad in October 2013 and January 2014. "'The Trip' is a working title of my film which stars Jimmy Shergil in the lead. My relationship with Gujarat started with 'The Good Road', for which I've also done cinematography. During its pre-production, I had the chance to travel the length and breadth of Gujarat. Apart from beautiful landscape, I think, things which attract the movie makers the most is a hassle-free environment. The government is very cooperative and prompt in granting permissions. Also, people are very helpful. During the stressful shooting schedules, not once did I lose a minute due to inconvenience cause by the people," he said. Echoed Johnny Baweja, co-producer and lead actor of an English film, 'Swen', which was shot extensively in Kutch in 2011. "Prompt permission by the government for shooting was a pleasant surprise for me when I came here with my unit. Inspired by visuals shown in 'Lagan', we decided to explore Kutch and shot in Bhuj. People's support was great. The environment was very vibrant," Baweja said.

Ahmedabad: The unexplored locations of Gujarat are the main draw for Bollywood filmmakers, believes Jitendra Chauhan, a line producer. Chauhan has worked with several Hindi filmmakers as well as ad filmmakers from Mumbai.

"Locations in Mumbai, Delhi and Rajasthan are now overexposed. Filmmakers are always in search of new locations and Gujarat has so many locations to offer that it will take eight to 10 years for the filmmakers to reach the interesting corners of the state," he said.

"Crack land in Little Rann of Kutch is different from the one near Jaipur in Rajashtan. The crack land here caused by summer heat is visually more exotic. So, whenever you travel to the Rann, chances are that you might bump into one or other film unit camping there," said Chauhan.

In Kutch, there are several communities like Jat, Mutwa, Rabari, Medhwal who wear completely different designs of costumes and jewellery made of ivory which are a visual delight for any one with a camera.

In addition, temples and palaces preserved by Archeological Survey of India are another attraction. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,' was shot in Mandvi Palace; Tigmanshu Dhulia's 'Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster', was shot in Devgadh Baria Palace; and Indra Kumar's 'Grand Masti' was shot in Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara. That apart, a portion of 'Kai Po Chhe' was shot in Diu fort, said Chauhan.

Gujarat is the only state in the country offering such biodiversity, says filmmaker Vijay K Patel. "It has the longest coastline, and Gir, Dang and Polo forests. Moreover, it boasts of having the world's only white desert. The cultural diversity is even more attractive. The sand found here is different and looks exotic on screen," said Patel, who has made Gujarati film 'Canvas'.

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