Bhushan: People want to see their own country

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By HT

Mumbai, Aug. 23 -- Bollywood film-makers and their obsession with foreign locales has been a known fact for ages now. 

While watching urban love stories, audiences often get transported to international destinations - beautiful European cities, and buzzing global metropolises such as New York, Singapore, and Dubai. 

But new-age filmmakers have turned the concept of 'new locations' on its head, and are discovering the vibrant small towns and villages of India. 

"People want to see their own country," says producer Bhushan Kumar, whose next Batti Gul Meter Chalu, has been shot in one such small town: Tehri, Uttrakhand. He adds that because of the Internet, "audiences can see all the fancy locations. Also, English movies are [going] so big in today's time and they typically [showcase] the biggest of the visuals of any city. So, there is no craze left."

Many new films have taken this path. The recent release, Dhadak, was shot in Udaipur. Forthcoming films set in small towns and rural areas include Loveratri, Manmarziyaan, Milan Talkies, Kedarnath, Arjun Patiala, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and Luka Chhupi. These films star popular actors such as Sushant Singh Rajput, Abhishek Bachchan, and Sonam Kapoor, among others.

Ali, who shot in Lucknow and Mathura, for Milan Talkies, feels that the "the appeal of foreign locales has been a very relevant aspect in Bollywood films", but shooting in India is a different experience altogether. 

"I think films that are shot in the heartland are more relatable, because the people in those films are characters that you've come across or may come across in your real life. And that just drives the plot home! Such films are popular because a majority of Indians belong to, and come from, the heartlands and not the metros," he says.

Abhiraj Minawala is making his directorial debut with Loveratri, shot in Baroda. He says while shooting for the film, he discovered that it's such a "culturally rich city". 

He elaborates, "The flavour of this city is not seen in recent times [in cinema]. Also, what adds value is the audience in these towns. Now that our reach has increased so much more, they instantly connect with such films."

Bhushan points out, "Also, we're concentrating more on content these days, so, we need to be true to our location too."

For Bollywood actors, who are used to foreign locales, working at a small-town location has its own charm. Taapsee Pannu, who's a Punjabi and shot in Amritsar for Manmarziyaan, says, "As a person who comes from the heartland, you can use nuances and improvisation. But stories set in foreign lands are more aspirational and I enjoy shooting them, too, because of the same reason - I can use a part of my experience [in my work]."