New canvas of Bollywood

, Special

The tiger state of India is emerging as the new Bollywood destination and it’s as beautiful as it can get

Words: Shefali Sinha

Madhya Pradesh, the ‘Heart of India’, offers an assortment of attractions to everyone who loves to travel and is gradually emerging as a destination for all season. With a noticeable spurt in the shooting of films and TV projects here, the state is set to emerge as a major film shoot destination in 2020. The film-friendly infrastructure of the state has been serving goals for cinema lovers over the years. According to Mr. Faiz Ahmed Kidwai (IAS), Secretary-Tourism, Govt of Madhya Pradesh and Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board, “The Bollywood producers and directors find this state more desirable as compared to other places not only because of its scenic beauty but also people here are very hospitable.”

Paan Singh Tomar shot in Chambal Valley

Having such a rich heritage, Madhya Pradesh has always encouraged tourism. But for a long time, a part of the tourist percentage has been from the film industry. The three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Khajuraho Temple, Sanchi Stupa and Bhimbetka Rock Shelters – have been acting as the jewels of the crown beholden by the state. Apart from these, the state glitters with Jai Vilas Palace, Rajgarh Palace, Mitawali or Mitaoli, Aterfort, and the Chhatris of Shivpuri. It has numerous wildlife hotspots with 11 national parks & 24 wildlife sanctuaries. Usually, film shoots happen in cities like Bhopal, Indore, Chanderi, Maheshwar, Pachmarhi, Bhedaghat, Mandu, Chambal Valley and Gwalior.

Chanderi has been a top preference for movies like Stree and Sui Dhaga whereas Indore was the location for Kinara, Singh Saab the Great, Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya and Tevar respectively. Similarly, Chambal Valley was the preferred set for movies like Paan Singh Tomar, Bandit Queen, Sonchiriya and Revolver Rani. Bhopal saw the shooting of films like Naya Daur, Maqbool, Peepli Live and Raajneeti amongst others.

A still from Kalank

With a noticeable spurt in the shooting of films and TV projects in Madhya Pradesh, the state is set to emerge as a major film shoot destination in 2020

The literature connection

Rudyard Kipling drew inspiration from settings and surroundings of the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The character ‘Mowgli’ was created based on a true story about a boy raised by wolves. Many of the Jungle Book’s locations including Seoni can still be visited today.

Apart from movies, Madhya Pradesh has also been the location for shooting some famous Bollywood songs like Mera Joota Hai Japani (Shri 420), Rat Andheri Hai (Rani Roopmant), Mora Piya Bolat Nahi (Raajneeti), Raat Ka Nasha (Asoka) and many more.

With such great treasures, the reason for the state being a major tourist attraction and staying connected to the film industry is understood. From great artists like Kishore Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Jaya Bachchan to Salman Khan, Arjun Rampal and Ashutosh Rana the film industry has always found its way around the state. But it’s not just Bollywood, international film body Hollywood also had projects like “The Bear” by Paramount Pictures, “A Suitable Boy” by BBC Production prized up in state’s collection.

Shooting of Padman in Maheshwar

Many other recent movies shot here include Panga, Kalank, Manikarnika, Luka Chuppi, Padman, Toilet- Ek Prem Katha, Mohenjo Daro, Bajirao Mastani, Motichoor Chaknachoor respectively.

Upcoming projects like ‘Sherni’ starring Vidya Balan and ‘Durgawati’ starring Bhumi Pednekar have also sought Madhya Pradesh as their destination.

State also offers incentives like Capital Investment Subsidy for creation of infrastructure along with the installation of equipment to establish film studio and film making. The state also runs its own hotels/motels which are available to the units for a film shooting.

Still from Peepli Live

The subsidy is given according to the budget of the film, shooting duration, artists (mainly local) involved, and the extent to which the state is shown. The support extended by the local authorities for permissions and access to various heritage and protected structures has acted as the key factor for many filmmakers and actors to trust the state for shoots. With such subsidies and incentives, the government has been able to attract filmmakers which in turn has increased the state’s tourist footfalls since there is a great following of actors and cinema in India.

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