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Bollywood 90s films: International locales

Bollywood films shot at international destinations

bollywood film ddljDilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Dil To Paagal Hai, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. What do these Bollywood films have in common besides being huge hits in the 1990s? It’s the canvas, the international destinations, that added the magic to those Bollywood movies.

Producer-director Yash Chopra popularised the concept of shooting abroad, possibly more than any other director. Yash Chopra was among the pioneers of this particular trend and his films in the chronological order of Silsila, Chandini, Darr, Lamhe and Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, all include extensive footage of shots filmed in and around the Alps. His chiffon-clad heroines, gyrating seductively with the Alps as a backdrop are one of the hallmarks of 90s’ cinema.

Popular locations in Europe

Can you imagine Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge without its European background? Europe’s breathtaking scenario was a striking and effective contrast to the rustic beauty of India. The love story of Simran and Raj was set in sylvan Europe and Punjab’s mustard fields. Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge has gone on to become the longest running Bollywood movie and is considered a cult romance.

The film moved beautifully from international destinations like London to Switzerland and then to Punjab. Aditya Chopra, shot a considerable part of the film in London taking us on an open-top bus tour including Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, South Bank, County Hall, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Buckingham Palace, King’s Cross Station, Angel Underground Station and The Broadway in Southall. He also took us on a whirlwind tour of Europe by Eurail to witness the growing romance of his leading couple. His fascination for Zurich, probably an inheritance from his father, Yash Chopra, was apparent through the first half of the film.

They say travel and tourism in Europe picked up so much after the stupendous success of Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge that trade and travel ministries from different countries began wooing Hindi film producers to shoot Bollywood films in their countries.

Taking a trip down memory lane, how could we forget Dil To Paagal Hai? Yash Chopra detoured for the movie, took us to Germany instead and the public lapped it up yet once more. It was the first Bollywood movie to be shot in Baden-Baden, Germany, “Baden-Baden is so nice, that you have to name it twice” is an oft quoted Bill Clinton statement. Baden Baden (meaning Bathing Bathing) is a spa town built on thermal springs at the edge of the Black Forest.

Yash Chopra’s Lamhe, was a 1991 released film, which a lot of people thought was way ahead of its time but it did not get the success it rightfully deserved. The unconventional love saga saw Sridevi metamorphose from her gawky, buxom image into her sleek, glamorous ’90s avatar.

But the international locales did not always blend seamlessly into the fabric of Bollywood films. A classic case was the fantasy song sequence in Aishwarya Rai’s Hindi debut Jeans in 1998, that had the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and Empire State building as backdrops. The song served the dual purpose of armchair travel and tourism for the viewer in the company of a stunningly beautiful heroine.

Bollywood producer Karan Johar, in his debut film as director, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee, took us for a vacation to Scotland and led us to believe that it was a Simla summer camp. The banter, the interplay between the characters, was heightened by the verdant beauty of the surroundings. The different Scottish locations include: North Berwick (Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock); Maybole (Crossraguel Abbey and Dunure Castle); Ross Priory by Loch Lomond; Inchmahome Priory in Lake of Menteith, near Aberfoyle; Loch Tulla, near Bridge of Orchy; Blackrock Cottage in Glencoe; Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali shifted gears in the second half of the soulful film, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999 ). He moved gracefully from the ornate, traditional Gujarati haveli to the lyrically beautiful Italy. Most of the second half is supposed to have been set in Italy. Hungary doubles for it quite well, but as soon as they showed the river and the bridges it was a give away and one could identify the unnamed “Italian” city as Budapest. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Budapest is considered an important Central European hub for business, culture and tourism.

Bollywood films shot in America and Australia

For a long time, America was almost untouched because the few films shot there had not met with much success. Boney Kapoor’s Judaai(1997) was responsible to an extent in changing that perception.

Australia had not missed the Bollywood producer’s discerning eye either. Abbas-Mastan’s Soldier( 1998) had Bobby Deol playing the drums on Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s most well-known and photographed landmarks.

So what made Bollywood producers catch the nearest available flight with their entire unit in tow and shoot at locations abroad? Though shooting Bollywood movies abroad was and is very expensive, producers believed it was a worthwhile investment since it infused visual appeal into the film and added an element of uniqueness to a travel hungry nation like India. In fact, Bollywood filmmakers often introduce NRI characters into their films so they can shoot scenes abroad.

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