Who doesn’t appreciate watching a good-looking couple frolicking and singing love songs against a backdrop of Switzerland’s snow-capped mountains? The sight of your favourite Bollywood actor walking down the streets of New York, shopping bags in hand, or dancing as the sun sets behind the pyramids in Egypt is a welcome distraction from our worldly woes. But for now, they can take a breather.
In recent years, Indian filmmakers have re-discovered India and its many towns and cities. Setting their stories in the country, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, they are giving viewers a chance for ‘Bharat darshan’ like no other. From ‘Ratlam ki galiyaan’ to stepping on to Chennai Express, here are some journeys you can undertake when you watch these films.
1. Masaan in Varanasi
Vicky Kaushal made his debut in 2015 with Neeraj Ghaywan’s critically-acclaimed Masaan. With two separate tracks running parallel in the movie, it is the city of Varanasi that unites them. The boat rides on the Ganges, throngs of devotees gathering for evening prayers, and the sight of burning funeral pyres on Harishchandra Ghats make the holy city a central figure in the movie.
2. Karwaan in Kerala
Filmmaker Akarsh Khurana’s debut film was a movie that saw its leads— Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar, and the late Irrfan Khan—take a road trip from Bengaluru to Kochi. With the movie being shot in real time, the audience was able to see many of the locations between Kochi and Kumarakom. Check out the scene in which the three of them sit together on a bridge, drinking coconut water, and discussing their lives which was used for the poster of the movie. The quaint bridge is located in the Thrissur district of Kerala and has become quite a tourist attraction after the film’s release.
3. Rock On 2 in Meghalaya
Actor Farhan Akhtar has mentioned in interviews that the sequel to the superhit Rock On was a tribute to the people of North-East. Also known as India’s rock music capital, Meghalaya is the perfect setting for the film’s rock singer protagonist who wants to settle down and start afresh. Filmed in and around Shillong, Umniuh village in Ri Bhoi district, Cherrapunji, Laitlum and other locations—the film beautifully captures the rolling hills and picturesque landscapes of the North Eastern state.
4. Barfi in Darjeeling
Director Anurag Basu’s critically-acclaimed Barfi, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, and Priyanka Chopra, was shot in the lush green hills of Darjeeling. Those familiar with the beautiful hill station located in the Himalayan foothills would be able to recognise popular landmarks such as Sukna, Tindharia, Chowrasta, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Station at Ghoom, Windamere Hotel, Keventer’s, and Planters Club. The famous Capital Clock Tower also made its way to the movie with the scene in which Ranbir tries to turn back time by pushing the hands of the clock. Time to re-watch the movie with a cup of hot Darjeeling tea?
5. Jab Tak Hai Jaan in Ladakh
The beauty of the Pangong Lake in Ladakh was captured in all its pristine glory in the last film directed by the late Yash Chopra. Anushka Sharma as Akira dives right into it, only to be rescued by Samar Anand played by Shah Rukh Khan. Another sequence, which also serves as his entry, sees SRK drive down a curving road with the majestic mountains in the distance. A voiceover by the star in which he recites a poem written by Aditya Chopra adds to the beauty of the scene. This particular sequence was also shot near Pangong.
6. Life of Pi in Puducherry
The former French colony served as a picturesque backdrop for international filmmaker Ang Lee’s visual masterpiece. The zoo owned by Pi (Suraj Sharma) and his family is actually the Botanical Gardens which also has a miniature train called Bee Gee Express. The curving, narrow lanes of Grand Bazaar serve as the perfect backdrop for Pi and his beloved Anandi’s love story, and the Pondicherry pier is where he bids her farewell with a heavy heart.
7. Gulabo Sitabo in Lucknow
In Shoojit Sircar’s film, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana as miserly landlord Mirza and shrewd tenant Baankey respectively, it is the city of Lucknow that lends apt flavour to the comedy-drama. Filmed in the narrow, crowded lanes of Hazratganj and Chowk, the movie pays a homage of sorts to old Lucknow. The dilapidated haveli, Fatima Mahal, which is shown to be Mirza’s home doffs a hat to the bygone grandeur of the city.
8. Andhadhun in Pune
Punekars will easily recognise some of their neighbourhoods and popular spots in the city in Sriram Raghavan’s black comedy starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, and Radhika Apte. Playing a blind pianist, Ayushmann as Aakash is shown performing at Shisha Jazz Café. The neighbourhoods of Magarpatta and Koregaon Park also figure prominently in the movie. Residents would also be able to easily recognise Khadki Underpass in the scene where Tabu gets kidnapped.
9. Mimi in Rajasthan
Barring a couple of scenes, this Kriti Sanon-Pankaj Tripathi starrer was shot in Mandawa, Churu, and Jaipur in Rajasthan. The grandeur of the state is captured in locations such as Hotel Royal Rest, Bansidhar Nevatia Haveli, and Mandawa Kothi in Mandawa. One of the scenes shows the protagonist praying at the Shri Shantinath Bhagwan temple in Churu. Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur also features in one of the sequences.
10. Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui in Chandigarh
The title of the 2021 film is enough to tell you where the Ayushmann Khurrana-Vaani Kapoor starrer must have been filmed. Be it the beautiful Sukhna Lake where Khurrana goes boating with his reel family to Leisure Valley where the lovers are seen cycling—the city is present in every scene. The culture of the place can also be felt in the way the characters speak and respond to situations.