A sleepy Rajasthani town has been quietly lighting up the silver screen. It’s high time you found out.
Bollywood’s relationship with travel destinations goes a long way back. From Raj Kapoor’s choicest selection of Indian locations, to Yash Chopra’s well-documented endorsement of Switzerland, the Indian Film Industry has lit up our screens with breathtaking use of locations. And this adulation is not one-sided. Remember how Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi were central to Haider and Delhi 6? And ever notice how beautiful locations play big roles in Imtiaz Ali’s stories?
For some time now, a sleepy, antiquated Rajasthani town has been quietly wooing audiences all over, adding a touch of royalty to some of the most popular movies in recent times. Mandawa, the town in question, was previously a stopover on the legendary silk-route. Being home to many rich merchants, it has a scattering of many lavish havelis and temples, apart from the Mandawa Castle, home to the royal family. Most of the merchants have migrated elsewhere, but these architectural riches remain. With glorious al-fresco paintings adorning the walls of these Havelis, and there are 55 of them, and an abundance of traditional Rajasthani fabrics and crafts, the locals call it ‘the biggest open-art gallery in the world’.
As to why it is so-well loved by Bollywood, the reasons are aplenty. Sandeep Singh, a location scouting agent who helps filmmakers look for locations and arrange shoots in Mandawa said to IANS,Mandawa is becoming popular among directors for its natural locale, cheap production cost, no star-struck crowd, calm life with people emphasizing on their day-to-day work rather than crowding around vanity vans. Quite obviously, the sand dunes, the rustic Rajasthani spirit and the beautiful architecture of the town are the main draws. Also, the locals here are quiet and unassuming, preferring to go about their own business, which adds to the appeal for the stars and the film crew. With time, many hotels have sprung up across the town, which make special arrangements for film crews shooting here.
Since we’ve got the logistics out of the way, let’s look at some of the biggest movies that have been shot here:
Mandawa stood in for some locations depicting Pakistan, including the one where Salman is in jail.
Most of the beginning of the film has been shot here, including scenes with Sanjay Dutt and that hilarious song ‘Tharki Chokro’.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
If you ever wondered about that dreamy location of the song ‘Cutie Pie’ in the movie, it was Mandawa.
Shuddh Desi Romance
This Yashraj production has many significant scenes shot here, including a major portion with Sushant Singh Rajput and Vaani Kapoor and the song ‘Gulabi’.
Love Aaj Kal
Like all of Imtiaz’s work, this movie too had some great locations that enchanted its young audience. Many important scenes of the film were shot here.
Jab We Met
An enthralling road movie, Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met gave all of us many travel goals. Not many of us know though that the song ‘Hum jo Chalne Lage’ was shot in Mandawa.
Manorama Six Feet Under
One of the most underrated drama films in recent memory, a major portion of the film has been shot here.
This star-studded film, starring Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachhan, and Rani Mukherjee, was as much a look into a look into the rural Rajasthan as it was a surreal psychological drama. India’s official entry in the 2006 Oscars, a portion of the movie where the new bride, played by Rani, is being taken to her new home, was shot here, along with some outdoor scenes.
Kachhe Dhaage, Mirziya.
The upcoming Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor starrer ‘Half Girlfriend’, based on the Chetan Bhagat novel of the same name, has also been shot here.