Abdulla Mahmood revisits the five top foreign locales and the reasons why they became Bollywood hot spots over the years.
Hot spot 1: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
When people speak of the UAE, it is Dubai that first springs to mind.
The city is popular among Indians as the city of opportunities and dreams.
The UAE has transformed the primarily desert nation into one of the most advanced and urbane cities of the world, luring Bollywood to it.
The clean and safe environment adds to the advantage of shooting here.
There are options of shooting in deserts, mountains and beaches, making for a good film package.
Besides, the UAE's growing economy has attracted Bollywood fraternity to invest in real estate, hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai Creek, Jumeirah Road, Burj Al Arab, Jumierah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach, Emirates Golf Club, Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall, Hajar Mountains in Ras Al Khaimah and beaches and sand dunes in the Northern Emirates region.
Popular films shot in the UAE
Naam, Boom, Ajnabee, Om Jai Jagadish, Talaash, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Fida, Deewane Huye Paagal, The Killer, Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya, Woh Lamhe, Risk, Naqaab, Fool N Final, Partner, Welcome and Race.
Biggest blockbuster shot in the UAE
Welcome, which netted Rs952 million (Dh89 million) worldwide.
Welcome's UAE trivia
Anil Kapoor was working with Feroze Khan and Nana Patekar after 21 years and 19 years respectively.
Kapoor and Patekar decided to surprise Khan, the senior-most actor in the Welcome unit, by booking him the Grand Suite in the Grand Hyatt, Dubai.
The suite, the most expensive in the hotel, overlooks the historic Dubai creek and parklands.
Khan, touched, invited the entire film unit to his suite for a night of merry-making.
“Dubai rocks. It has beaches, tourist attractions and great malls. I had great fun shooting Fool N Final on the Shaikh Zayed Road,'' said Ayesha Takia, about shooting in Dubai, her favourite holiday destination.
Star with maximum recent films shot in the UAE
Katrina Kaif, with Boom, Partner, Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya and Welcome.
Time taken from Mumbai to Dubai
Approximately 2-1/2 hours on a non-stop flight.
Five reasons for shooting in the UAE
- Dubai's proximity to Mumbai makes makes it easier for Bollywood filmmakers to fly actors down for a shoot to this UAE city in the morning and fly them back to Mumbai in the evening.
- Dubai, with its skyscrapers and contemporary, sophisticated infrastructure, gives Bollywood filmmakers a good reason to shoot in the city.
- The UAE offers a lot of scenic locations, with its clean beaches, clear water, mountains, deserts and sand dunes.
- Dubai has malls with all international brands available at costs cheaper than most European countries.
This encourages film-makers to buy costumes from here.
- The UAE has a high percentage of Indians living there, which gives it the look of an Indian state.
It has all the facilities Indians need, which makes the cast and crew feel at home and makes for hassle-free shooting.
Hot spot 2: Switzerland
Switzerland is considered a paradise on Earth, with its captivating scenic beauty.
Switzerland's importance in Bollywood grew only after India's own “paradise'', Kashmir, got embroiled in turmoil, making the place unsafe for film-shooting.
Thus, Bollywood filmmakers started looking for a replacement for Kashmir when it came to snow-capped mountains, scenic beauty and uninhabited locations — and Switzerland presented more than a good alternative.
Thanks to producer-director Yash Chopra, who made it a must to shoot at least one song in Switzerland in most of his films during the 1980s and 1990s, other filmmakers also followed his lead.
Roadside cafés in Berne and other Swiss cities, lakes in Geneva, Mount Pilatus and Titlis, monuments in Zurich, snow-capped Alps, scenic beauty on the Golden Pass route between Montreux, Lucerne, Interlaken and Zweisimmen.
Films shot in Switzerland
Sangam, Chandni, Darr, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Hero No 1, Dil To Paagal Hai, Yes Boss, Biwi No 1, Kya Kehna, Dhadkan, Pyar To Hona Hi Tha, Jodi No 1, Ajnabee, Company, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Hulchul and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.
Biggest blockbuster shot in Switzerland
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge netted Rs755 million (Dh71 million) when it was released worldwide.
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge's Swiss trivia
The film's scenic beauty was such that black marketeers sold the film tickets by shouting: “Buy two tickets for Rs500 (Dh46) and visit Switzerland!''
In fact, Yash Chopra, the producer of this film, was honoured with a special award by the Swiss government for having made the world rediscover Switzerland with the film's global impact.
“I went to Switzerland after almost six years to shoot Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and the place is as beautiful as it was six years ago. All my worries disappeared when I entered Switzerland,'' Rani Mukerji said about her experiences in Switzerland during the shoot of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.
Star with maximum films shot in Switzerland
Govinda, with Hero No 1, Deewana Mastana, Dulhe Raja, Achanak, Kunwara, Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain, Hadh Kardi Aapne, Rajaji and Jodi No 1.
Time taken from Mumbai to Zurich
Approximately 9 hours on a non-stop flight.
Five reasons for shooting in Switzerland
- Year-round snow makes it ideal for Bollywood film-makers to shoot their films there if the script is based on a place with ice and snow.
Besides, song-and-dance numbers in the midst of snow-capped mountains have always been a Bollywood favourite.
- There are abundant picturesque locations, providing filmmakers the opportunity to shoot different sequences in different parts of the region, giving the film an overall appeal and aesthetic quality.
- Shooting in Swiss rail is a luxurious experience. Such facilities are not available in India and such sequences always capture the imagination of the Indian audience.
- Most of the filmmakers schedule their shoot in Switzerland when it is summer in India to get away from the sweltering heat.
This also gives actors the opportunity to both carry on their work and have fun with family and friends.
- As many films are shot in the region, there is a dedicated Swiss service team that provides all kinds of facilities for shooting — right from making the cast and crew comfortable to providing equipment.
From the UAE
From Dubai, Emirates flies daily. Fare from Dh3,280
Swiss International Airlines flies daily. Fare from Dh3,190
Air France flies daily. Fare from Dh3,100
Closest international airport is Geneva.
British Airways flies daily. Fare from Dh3,560
Swiss International Airlines flies daily. Fare from Dh3,520
Qatar Airways flies six days a week. Fare from Dh2,840
Package includes economy class ticket on Emirates; 4 nights stay in a deluxe double room on twin sharing basis at The Baur au Lac Hotel with breakfast; return airport transfers
Fare from Dh11,745.00
Package includes economy class ticket on Swiss International Airlines; 4 nights stay in a executive double room on twin sharing basis at Le Richemond Hotel with breakfast; return airport transfers
Fare from Dh8,750.00
Package includes return economy class ticket on Swiss International Airlines; 4 nights stay in a standard mountain view double room on twin sharing basis at The Royal Plaza Montreux with breakfast; return airport transfers
Fare from Dh8,930.00
Package includes return economy class ticket on Emirates; 4 nights stay in a standard city view double room on twin sharing basis at The Palace Luzern with breakfast; return airport transfers
Fare from Dh8,545
Information courtesy: Dnata Holidays. Ph: 8008118
Hot spot 3: United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has attracted Bollywood for decades, thanks to the colonial rule in India.
This background makes it a perfect set-up for “East Meets West'' films, with this conflict of culture first popularised by Manoj Kumar's Purab Paschim (1970).
However, the UK is a haven for tourism, with London being one of the world's most popular destinations.
The city takes care of Bollywood's major shootings in the UK as it offers some of the world's most famous landmarks and provides great weather conditions and natural scenic beauty.
In fact, some Bollywood personalities have even made London their second home.
Heathrow Airport, London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Palace, Trafalgar Square, Bond Street, Piccadilly Circus and Edinburgh Castle.
Popular films shot in the UK
Qurbani, Lamhe, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Baghban, Bhagam Bhag, Namastey London, Cheeni Kum and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal.
Biggest blockbuster shot in the UK
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, which netted Rs858 million (Dh80 million).
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham's UK trivia
The film's second half is set in London and the plot revolves around the kitsch of an NRI family.
This appealed to the UK-based Asians and helped the film reach the No 3 spot on the UK box office charts.
In the film, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire was converted into King's College, in which Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor study.
“London was fantastic and I had good fun working there. I have also shot for Bhagam Bhag on London streets, it was great,'' said Lara Dutta, during the release of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, also shot there.
Star with maximum recent films shot in the UK
Shah Rukh Khan, with English Babu Desi Mem, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabattein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
Time taken from Mumbai to London
Approximately 9-1/2 hours on a non-stop flight.
Five reasons for shooting in the UK
- London and its world-famous tourist spots make it an irresistible destination for shooting a Bollywood film.
- The large population of Indians there make it an ideal set-up for canning a film that targets the NRI audience, a norm which is fast gaining popularity.
- The rich heritage with magnificent castles and palaces makes it a unique experience to shoot amid these historical locations.
- The producers love shopping for designer costumes from the popular global brands easily available in London. And they also utilise these in their films that are shot there.
- The UK not only offers a sophisticated urban look to the film but gives the film-makers a chance to shoot amid the natural scenic beauty of the countryside.
Hot spot 4: South Africa
South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. Exotic combinations of culture, landscapes, wildlife, beaches and contemporary infrastructure offer Bollywood a unique destination.
India shares a part of its history with South Africa, owing to Mahatma Gandhi's early struggle against apartheid.
A stable post-apartheid political environment and a big Indian population has encouraged Bollywood filmmakers to explore Australia's wild and natural beauty amid modern infrastructure.
Cape Point and Table Mountain, beaches of Camp Bay, Clifton and Llandudno, Cape Winelands, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Gold Reef City & Sun City hotels in Johannesburg, national parks and wildlife reserves, Durban's Golden Mile with its luxurious hotels and warm beaches.
Popular films shot in South Africa
Dushman, Hera Pheri, Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, Bichoo, Barsaat, Andaaz, Aankhen, Waqt, No Entry, Phir Hera Pheri, Dhoom 2, Shaka Laka Boom Boom, Kya Love Story Hai, Cash, Welcome and Race.
Biggest blockbuster shot in South Africa
Dhoom 2, which netted Rs1.17 billion (Dh109 million) worldwide.
Dhoom 2's South African trivia
Dhoom 2 had some crucial scenes shot in South Africa, though the script did not include any. The opening train sequence was shot there in the middle of the desert in Namibia.
“After shooting so many films in South Africa, I have fallen in love with the country. I have planned to buy a property there that I would like to make my holiday home,'' said Akshay Kumar, whose every second film seems to have been shot there.
Star with maximum recent films shot in South Africa
Akshay Kumar, with Hera Pheri, Aankhen, Andaaz, Aitraaz, Dosti, Waqt, Phir Hera Pheri, Welcome and Humko Deewana Kar Gaye.
Time taken from Mumbai to Cape Town
Approximately 8-1/2 hours on a non-stop flight.
Five reasons for shooting in South Africa
- The wildlife sanctuaries and reserves are a major attraction, as there are very few countries that make shooting among wild animals so safe and problem-free.
- The white-sand beaches and beautiful sunbathing women have always attracted Bollywood filmmakers and added a touch of glamour to the films.
- The place has beautiful models who are easily available for shoots during a song-and-dance sequence so essential to every Bollywood film.
- The opulent hotel resorts and amazing infrastructure provide the perfect backdrop for a chic film setting.
- South Africa also gives filmmakers the alluring option of exploring uninhabited natural locations, which gives the film a fresh look and offers something new to the audience.
From the UAE
From Dubai, Emirates flies daily. Fare from Dh4,990
South African Airways flies daily. Fare from Dh4,200
Gold Reef City
Closest international airport is Johannesburg.
Emirates flies daily. Fare from Dh4,620.00
South African Airways flies daily. Fare from Dh4,400
South African Airways flies daily via Johannesburg.
Fare from Dh4,720
Package includes return economy ticket on Emirates. 4 nights stay in a luxury double room on twin sharing basis at The Cape Grace Hotel with breakfast; return airport transfers.
Fare from Dh8,913
Package includes return economy ticket on Emirates;
4 nights stay in a superior room on twin sharing basis at Speir, The Village, with breakfast; return airport transfers.
Fare from Dh6,845
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Package inclued return economy ticket on Emirates;
4 nights stay in a standard double room on twin sharing basis at The Radisson Hotel Waterfront with breakfast; return airport transfers
Fare from Dh6,642
Package includes economy class ticket on Emirates; 4 nights stay in a standard room on twin sharing basis at The InterContinental London Park Lane with breakfast; return airport transfers
Fare from Dh6,980
Information courtesy: Dnata Holidays. Ph: 8008118
Hot spot 5: Australia
Australia, the land of kangaroos, tops the list when it comes to Bollywood's recent favourite destinations.
The image of Australia as an exotic, wild, expansive and beautiful continent with excellent social lifestyle and a rocking nightlife has cast a spell over Bollywood in recent years.
Despite being located far from tinsel town (Mumbai), Bollywood has travelled the extra distance to capture the best of Australia on the silver screen.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach in Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast and Kangaroo Island.
Popular films shot in Australia
Hindustani, Soldier, Dil Hi Dil Mein, Hadh Kar Di Aapne, Dil Chahta Hai, Janasheen, Road, Salaam Namaste, Phir Hera Pheri, Chak De! India and Heyy Babyy.
Biggest blockbuster shot in Australia
Chak De! India, which netted Rs760 million (Dh71 million) worldwide.
Chak De! India's Australian trivia
Chak De! India's second half, with its thrilling hockey matches and the equally exciting climax, was shot entirely in Australia.
The entire cast of the film, including Shah Rukh Khan and the Chak De girls, felt they had gone to Australia for a sporting event rather than for a film — they camped out for more than a month there.
“I like the graciousness of the people in Melbourne and Sydney, as well the people who worked with us there,'' said Shah Rukh Khan, about his experience while shooting for Chak De! India in Australia.
Star with maximum recent films shot in Australia
Fardeen Khan, with Prem Aggan, Janasheen and Heyy Babyy.
Time taken from Mumbai to Sydney
Approximately 12 hours on a non-stop flight.
From the UAE
From Dubai, Cathay Pacific flies daily via Hong Kong.
Fare from Dh5,710
Malaysian Airlines flies four days a week via Kuala Lumpur. Fare from Dh4,770
Closest international airport is Brisbane.
Emirates flies daily.
Fare from Dh5,500
Singapore Airlies flies daily.
Fare from Dh5,380
Thai Airways flies daily via Bangkok.
Fare from Dh4,880
Package includes return economy ticket on Emirates; 4 nights stay in a city harbour double room on twin sharing basis at The Park Hyatt Sydney with breakfast; return airport transfers.
Fare from Dh9,665 (Information courtesy: Dnata Holidays. Ph: 8008118)
Abdulla Mahmood is a UAE-based freelance write