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London is Bollywood's city of the moment
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
London seems to be Bollywood's chosen city right now.
Karan Johar is in the city scripting his next directorial venture. Vishal Bhardwaj flew off to London for the screening of his "Maqbool" at the Commonwealth film festival, and his leading man Irfan Khan has just joined him there.
Preity Zinta and Madhavan are also in London.
Bollywood filmmakers in general have been taking off for foreign cities to shoot because it's more economically viable to do so.
Nowadays several scripts are being written with certain cities in mind. Anubhav Sinha shot both his feature films "Tum Bin" and "Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai" in Canada. He intends to shoot his third feature as well in Canada.
Karan Johar shot "Kal Ho Na Ho" almost entirely in New York. And in Sanjay Gupta's "Kaante", Los Angeles was more than just a backdrop.
But the favourite location at the moment seems to be London. At least four films have been shot there.
These include Hansal Mehta's "Raakh", Padam Kumar's "Kabhi Bhi Kahin Bhi" and Raj Kaushal's "Shaadi Ka Laddoo". Kaushal intends to shoot his next production, a comedy, in London again.
Several other projects, including Tamil star Madhavan's new Hindi film, tentatively titled "Bawarchi", are heading to London for shooting.
Says Madhavan: "In my original Tamil film 'Nala Damayanthi', I play a Tamil cook in Australia. In the Hindi remake I'm a Bihari cook in London. The heroine is a London-based character.
"I'd rather have London as London rather than take geographical liberties in the narration. Besides it's convenient to shoot in London and it's a beautiful city."
Padam Kumar, whose "Kabhi Bhi Kahin Bhi" is almost ready for release, feels the foggy aura of the city lent itself well to the thriller mood of his film.
"I was able to complete the film in record time because my stars Dino Morea, Ashish Chowdhary and Diya Mirza were with me constantly. That's one of the advantages of shooting abroad. You have your stars and crew completely with you. Even when Diya had to return to India for a few days because of a family tragedy, we were able to wrap up shooting ahead of schedule."
Madhavan agrees. "I have the entire London schedule chalked out. All I need to do is go there and do the shooting with no risk of muck-ups."
Raj Kaushal, who shot "Shaadi Ka Laddoo" in London, feels the ambience and work culture in Mumbai isn't conducive to creativity.
"In London, my crew gave more than a hundred percent of themselves. Often after working for 18 hours they'd still want to go on. I had to cry halt."
Young actor Ashish Chaudhary who has just shot two films - "Shaadi Ka Laddoo" and "Kabhi Bhi Kahin Bhi" - in London returns to the city later this year to shoot Raju Kher's thriller.
"It's a coincidence that I've three films in London this year. But I must admit it's pleasant coincidence. I love the city. Don't mind shooting with all my films there."
London is certainly not alien to Bollywood. Way back in 1967, the late Brij Sadanah shot his film "Night In London" in the city. But for many years Hindi films shot on foreign locations were considered jinxed.
Barring Raj Kapoor's "Sangam", no film that went abroad seemed to attract viewership.
Post-liberalisation, such mental blocks have ceased. Nearly 50 percent of Karan Johar's "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" was shot in London.