Films majorly are shot in real locations with real references to the city the plot is based on. And yes, the story should be good, actors should know… Acting, and other basic stuff, but every movie which was memorable had one thing in common for me. Everything had a part to play. From an Astronaut’s pen in 3 Idiots to a whole submarine in The Ghazi Attack, everything is an essential part to the story. But we have seen some great movies shot in such alive cities which brings their own energy to cinema, making them a character propagating the script. We have shortlisted some of these cities which were so exuberant that they took their movies to another level.
Bhopal in “Raajneeti”
The modern-day adaption of the epic Mahabharata was an ambitious project of Prakash Jha, and it was received well by the viewers and the critics both. And this political drama needed a battleground which Bhopal played so well. Between the poise hotels in Bhopal and the classy Lake View, the conspiracies with city’s silence sends chills to the bones. The beauty of Bhopal is evident and you can see the true spirit of modern India making the movie more relatable.
Jaipur in “Shuddh Desi Romance”
Three humans, entangled in the web of complicated relationships spun by themselves is a treat to watch(Do I sound sadistic?), and Jaipur’s enigma has played an important role in it. Manish Sharma’s movie includes a lot of weddings and it can not be anymore festive than to do it in this place. To celebrate the Pink city there’s a song too named Gulaabi. Jaipur’s vibes resonate so well with the storyline that audience falls for the characters and the city too.
Lucknow in “Daawat-e-Ishq”
This Habib Faisal’s entertainer starts from Hyderabad but establishes in the Nawabi Lucknow. It brings food so close to the camera that too so many times, it leaves you feeling hungry. It is a delicious love story, though not the kind where the protagonist is rich chap who owns hotels near Lucknow airport, but the characters have resemblance to the commoners. Lucknow’s politeness and food culture is an important part of the movie.
Amritsar in “Rab ne Bana di Jodi”
Though released at stressful times, this Aditya Chopra film was the highest grosser of that year. The pair of Surinder and Taani was loved worldwide, but the charisma was Suri’s alter-ego Raj. He charmed her lady by slacking with her around Amritsar’s beauty, though the most important location is the Golden Temple. That defining scene would not have felt that pious if anywhere else.
Jamshedpur in “Udaan”
It slowly picked pace on the box-office but this beautiful piece of art from Vikramaditya Motwane is now considered a cult classic. The story revolves around two brothers and their escape from their abusive father which is an amazing showcase of character development in Indian Cinema. But the grimness we constantly feel throughout goes to the gloomy, industrial space of Jamshedpur. Yes, the city is not a dark place but its representation in the picture is heavily responsible for its mood.
Sajjanpur in “Welcome to Sajjanpur”
If you have not seen this gem, you have missed a lot. The creation of acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal is a take on the rural India and its people. Many stories entwined in one with the backdrop of Sajjanpur, a village in district of Satna, Madhya Pradesh. The nuances and innocence of the village make us, as viewers, so empathetic and feel-good that a smile will be constant.
Kolkata in “Kahaani”
secrets, conspiracy, mystery and a constant sense of thrill is how you can define Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani. From the protagonist Vidya Bagchi’s decision of choosing a lodge over all the other hotels in Kolkata, to the noise of a Durga Pooja supressing gunshots, at the climax it seems like the city has been the protagonist all this time.
Goa in “Dear Zindagi”
When most of the Bollywood movies show Trance and Drugs as a synonym to our beloved Goa, this film is a refreshing take on the city by Gauri Shinde. Showing the struggles of a girl with her present affected by her past, Goa surely fills some new good memories in her mind. You will see Goa with the eyes of a native, and it is way more beautiful that way.
Delhi in “Delhi-6”
Undoubtedly, this movie is the best depiction of Delhi in today’s cinema. Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra saw a commercial failure in this baby of his, but critically it is an appreciated one. The urban Delhi which the lead character sees from Delhi hotel airport is used just as a reference for the Purani Dilli. The screenplay gets along with Delhi so closely that it is tough to imagine the events occurring anywhere else.
Varanasi in “Raanjhnaa”
Showcasing a love story with so many complexities like religion, politics, friendship and one-sided love, Anand L. Rai orchestrated Varanasi’s ghats and and streets in such a way that the rustic flavor of the movie never felt uneasing, but pure. Kundan’s quest for love of Zoya which eventually takes him to his death bed is heart-breaking but the scenes make you want to go to Ganga’s river bank immediately.
Mumbai in “The Lunchbox”
Dabbawalas of Mumbai never make a mistake, which was studied by the Harvard University. But what if they do? This is the thought behind the movie and a love story so unexpected that Ritesh Batra was greatly recognized as an intellectual director. The hard-hitting performances of Irfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur leave you stupefied but if Mumbai wouldn’t have played her part by its local trains, streets, households and specially its faceless crowd.
Kanpur in “Tanu weds Manu Returns”
Anand L. Rai has come out as a director with interesting characters and stories from the suburban India and this one was a roller-coaster ride all over. A toppling love drama as an extension to its first one, takes you to streets of the lively Kanpur. Thanks to the vivid female lead Tanuja “Tanu” Trivedi. You have to admit that Kanpur has its own kind of life.
Wasseypur in “Gangs of Wasseypur(1 and 2)”
No list of good works in Indian cinema will ever be complete without this 2-part epic. If you watch it keenly, it just not develops the characters of all the humans in it, but also the city. With the time passing by, a village with houses of mud and straw, the place evolves into a city filled with busy roads and buildings. This is a work of Anurag Kashyap, and like most of his priors this one too feels real.
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