Bollywood’s new love affair with UP

The Asian Age.  | Amita Verma

India, All India

Sanjay Dutt is presently shooting in Lucknow and in adjacent Barabanki for his own production Prasthanam in which he co-stars with Manisha Koirala.

A scene (below) from Jolly LL.B 2 that was shot in 2016.

A film producer who shoots a film in UP gets a subsidy of Rs 2 cr or 25% of the total cost. He gets an additional Rs 25 lakh if there are five local artistes in the film and Rs 50 lakh extra if all artistes are from the state.

Lucknow: The “sound” is getting louder, “'lights” are shining brighter and “action” just does not stop.

Uttar Pradesh, once a strict no-no for film makers, is now emerging as a hub for film making.

Top production houses have started lining up to shoot their “small town” films in Uttar Pradesh and the state and its people are also responding favourably.

“Filmmakers are heading to Uttar Pradesh mainly because the government offers a subsidy of Rs 2 crores. The focus, at present, is on small town stories and films like Bareilly ki Barfi, Behen Hogi Teri and Toilet Ek Prem Katha. The subject of these films could not have been set in metro cities. Uttar Pradesh offers an excellent mix of rural and urban locations that are fresh and unexploited,” said Rajesh Kiran, who is preparing to shoot his maiden film in Kanpur.

Free Games on The Asian Age. No Installing, No Charges. Stay Home Stay Safe. Click the Banner to play Now.

Lucknow and Varanasi, incidentally, are emerging as top favourite locations for film makers.

Films like Mukti Bhawan, Masaan, Ranjhana, Laga Chunri Mein Daag, Bunty Aur Babli and the recent Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain have been shot in Varanasi.

Lucknow has featured prominently in recent blockbusters like Jolly LL.B 2, Raid, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, Tanu Weds Manu and Dedh Ishquiya.

The state capital has plenty of havelis and palatial bungalows that add to the charm of storytelling on screen and the new memorials and parks are also an attraction for film makers.

 In several cases, the owners of these locations have not charged a penny for shooting the film. The only “charge” is a photograph with the stars or an invitation to a meal.

A poster of Raid that was shot in Lucknow in 2017.

Former chief minister Mayawati’s dream project Ambedkar memorial featured prominently in Youngistaan while former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s river front project featured in  Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aaana.

Lucknow is no longer about nawabs and kebabs — as was seen in Mere Huzoor.

Sanjay Dutt is presently shooting in Lucknow and in adjacent Barabanki for his own production Prasthanam in which he co-stars with Manisha Koirala.

A official of the Film Bandhu, the nodal agency for the business of film making in Uttar Pradesh, said that the state  offers economic viability for film makers.

“When a producer brings his unit here, he gets cheap labour and technical staff from the local theatre groups. The overhead costs of transport, boarding and lodging are much lower compared to other states.  The charges for hiring crowds are also minimal. All this helps the producer in cutting costs and making his film economically viable,” the officer said.

Moreover, the Yogi Adityanath government has removed the language bar from the subsidy rules and films belonging to regional languages like Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Mulayam, Punjabi and even English can avail the subsidy.

Rishi Kapoor in Mulk which is yet to be released.

“A film that is shot in UP gets a subsidy of `2 crore or 25 per cent of the total cost — whichever is less. The film producer gets an additional `25 lakhs if there are five local artists in the film and   `50 lakhs extra if all artists are from the state,” said Dinesh Sehgal, joint secretary, Film Bandhu.

According to him, more than 50 scripts have already been approved and will be shot in the state in the coming months. Filmmakers such as Boney Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Subhash Ghai and Sudhir Mishra have shown interest in shooting their projects to Lucknow.

Another factor that has made Uttar Pradesh a favourite destination of filmmakers is the increasing ease of crowd management.

Gone are the days when a special bus service was started from Lucknow to ferry crowds to Malihabad (which was 25 kilometres away) where late Shashi Kapoor was shooting his Junoon in 1978. People have learnt to live with star presence in their midst.

Ramesh Kumar, a local driver, who was a part of the Ajay Devgn starrer  Raid, said, “Apna sapna Lucknow mein hi poora hoi gaya.”