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Kutch becomes hot, new locale for Bollywood

By Deepak Mankad, IANS

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Dev AnandFrom "Guide" to "Mr Prime Minister", it has been a four-decade journey for Dev Anand who returns to the raw and rugged expanse of Gujarat's Kutch for his latest film.

Evergreen Dev Anand's new film will only add to the image gallery of Gujarat's largest district bordering Pakistan, which is fast becoming a hot destination of Bollywood.

In between then and now, between celluloid history's eager guide who became a revered sadhu in the parched deserts of Kutch and Dev Anand's new venture, there have been some unforgettable vignettes in Indian cinema -- all with the vast, empty beauty of the marshy desert as a backdrop.

Aamir Khan shot much of "Lagaan" here. Shots of his character Bhuvan looking over a panoramic expanse dotted with small hillocks highlight Kutch's desolate beauty. As does the sight of Abhishek Bachchan in his debut "Refugee" trudging through a landscape glittering with a mirage.

J.P. Dutta chose to move away from his favourite Rajasthan to shoot "Refugee" in Kutch in 2000, while, in the late 1990s, there was the memorable sequence in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's blockbuster "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" with Aishwarya Rai running after a 'Chhakada', an indigenous modification of a motorcycle and an autorickshaw.

There were other less mainstream films. Like "Lagaan", the entire shooting of the Hindi film "Dhad", starring Nandita Das and Kay Kay by Gujarati filmmaker Paresh Nayak was done here.

Producer Vinod Ganatra has also attracted international attention with his "Heda-Heda", which won a French film award recently.

"Heda-Heda" means "here and there," explains Ganatra. "It's a film about two shepherds whose camels stray away into Pakistan and how they get them back."

More recently, Malayalam superstar Mammooty was here to shoot for his film "Kaylacha".

Gujarat tourism officials say Kutch has a lot to offer in terms of good location to filmmakers. There's the famous palace of mirrors, its many forts, its coast and, of course, its unique landscape.

Move over Rajasthan, another desert is here to stay - on screen.


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