Bollywood is investing heavily in recce and scouting for quintessential frames. From Switzerland to Greece, be it iconic songs or romantic scenes, the industry has left no stone unturned in capturing the extraordinary beauty of Europe over the years, thus, contributing substantially to the tourism boom.
I t was not by fluke that Switzerland became the first European holiday destination for Indian tourists. With its snow-capped mountaintops, green pastoral gorges and scenic reservoirs, the place fast became a hotspot for honeymooners and nature lovers, owing its popularity to Bollywood directors who showcased the beauty of this central European country on 70 mm, to shedload of Bollywood buffs across India.
Filmmaker Yash Chopra was one of them. Referred to as the ‘king of romance’, he is remembered to have given these Swiss dreams to the Indian audience through his customary romantic songs that were shot in the snow clad Alps in several films, including Faasle (1985), Mohabbatein (2000), Bachna Ae Haseeno and Tashan (2008) amongst many others. So much so, he was also honoured with a special statue in Interlaken, by the government of Switzerland last year.
Bollywood has had a long history of being attracted to the west, particularly to Europe. Films from all ages, such as An Evening in Paris (1967), Silsila (1981), Chandni (1989), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Queen (2014), have been extensively filmed in some of the most assorted settings in the continent. However, this is not where it all started.
Rewind to 1964, when the first Indian film was shot in Europe. Sangam by Raj Kapoor, who is also known as ‘the greatest showman of Indian cinema’ dragged cinema goers to queue up just to see the foreign locales of Paris, Rome, Venice and Vatican in motion picture. This film, started the trend of drawing on overseas backdrops for onlocation shooting of song sequences.
Chopra was the first one to follow Raj Kapoor’s footsteps and with time, the director unfurled his spectrum while upholding his connect with Europe, with movies like Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Mujhse Dosti Karoge (2002), Hum Tum (2004), Fanaa (2006) and Don 2 (2011), to name a few, which unmasked the charm of Germany, Poland and Netherlands.
Since then, scores of movies by various directors have been shot at some of the most striking locations in Europe. Whether it is the Szechenyi Chain suspension bridge spanning over River Danube in Hungary in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), modern London streets in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and Cocktail (2012), picturesque Old Town Square of Prague in Rockstar (2011) or the dramatic landscape of Iceland in Dilwale (2015), Bollywood experimented with every location possible.
Inspiring Indian Travellers
The Hindi film industry lays a foundation for some unconventional travel inspirations for many. From running after trains for love to wearing short dresses in the snow, Bollywood films are indeed gripping. What started off with the famous Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, only got bigger and better with hit movies like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) and Queen. They whetted our imagination to the point where various tourism boards around the world have now opened themselves to have a share of the pie in the billion-dollar cinema world of India where nearly 2,500 films are shot annually.
What’s more is that tour operators in Europe offer special ‘European Bollywood movies tours’ and tailored ‘Yash Raj Films (YRF) Enchanting Journey’ tours,