Bollywood turns to Pune for picturesque settings and authentic cultural flavour.
Kareena Kapoor and Salman Khan are lost in the raptures of young love. They are on the phone with each other,walking around in a scenic college campus surrounded by hills,trees and mist. True to Bollywood style,they express love in a song called I love you. The 2011 film Bodyguard was a typical masala romance film set in a college,created to charm the viewers. But students from the Symbiosis Lavale campus are the ones who connected with the scene most deeply,as they recognised their own college in the scenes.
Later in the movie,when Khan goes to meet his mystery lady love at a park,the Pune audience enjoyed another surprise as they see him walking into Pu La Deshpande Udyan,a popular park on Sinhagad Road. The park is a stunning location to shoot at. I have seen very few parks that are designed and maintained as well as this one,so we decided to shoot there, says Bodyguard producer Atul Agnihotri. Since the film revolves around a college student (Kapoor) and her bodyguard (Khan),the teams priority was finding a beautiful college campus to shoot at. We finally decided on Symbiosis campus at Lavale because it is a beautiful campus in a lovely setting,with lots of space. These we cant find in Mumbai, says Agnihotri.
Agnihotri is not the only one captivated by Pune and its sights. Movie goers from the city would have noticed a slew of recent films shot or even set in Pune. Like Sridevis comeback movie English Vinglish,which depicts the Godbole family based in Pune. While the story could have worked just as well in any other city,Pune seemed to be a natural choice for Gauri Shinde,the director,who herself is a Puneite. The recent release,Nautanki Saala,too,has a character based in Pune Mandar Lele played by Kunal Roy Kapur. The escapades of Mandar and his friend Ram Parmar (Ayushmann Khuranna) take place in various locations from Lakdi Pul in Deccan to Pune University. And its no coincidence that the films co-writer,Nipun Dharmadhikari,is also based in Pune. We mostly write and shoot what we know,so instead of setting the story in Ahmedabad or a place I dont know too well,it makes sense that I would set it in Pune. Many recent movies that have been shot in Pune have some personal connect for the filmmakers, he says.
So it is with Rani Mukerjis Aiyyaa. Director Sachin Kundalkar hails from Pune and his love for the city is apparent in the scenes that take place across the Mandai,Sambhaji Bridge,Rastapeth and Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. Mukerjis character comes from a simple Maharashtrian middle-class family. I wanted to show the authentic Maharashtrian society and culture with all the old buildings and places. Besides,unlike Goa,Pune is an unexplored location, says Kundalkar.
In the film,Mukerji too is a student and her college scenes are shot at the Gokhale institute and library. The Mandai is depicted as the local market,while Prithviraj Sukumaran,who plays the South Indian male lead,lives in Rasta Peth,an area generally known to have many South Indian residents.
Kundalkar gives another reason for Pune becoming a choice location for film shootings: In about three hours,you can cross the distance between Mumbai and Pune,so it is a good place for outdoor shoots, he says.