Few kilometers away from Ballowal village in Ludhiana, Punjab, one can see flags of India and Pakistan fluttering atop two pillars. A closer look and one can see ‘India’ and ‘Pakistan’ written on a huge structure.
The famous Wagah Border (between India and Pakistan) which originally is at Amritsar has been recreated at Ballowal where Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif are shooting for Ali Abbas Zafar directorial Bharat.
However, one might wonder why Wagah Border has been recreated in Ludhiana when the original location too is in Punjab.
A member of the crew told The Indian Express that it is due to script’s demand that a set of Wagah Border has been setup in Ludhiana where shooting is expected to take place till November 18. Since it is not allowed by the Border Security Force (BSF) to shoot at Wagah Border due to security reasons, it was decided to setup a replica at Ballowal in Ludhiana. Also, there were certain scenes in which actors had to cross the border and move to Pakistan side which could not have been allowed either by BSF on Indian side or Pakistan Rangers on their side.
“There were certain scenes in which actors have to cross border and reach Pakistan side. It was not possible to shoot them at original location. Also, it wasn’t practical to shoot at Wagah Border in Amritsar as it is normally not allowed by BSF due to security reasons. It was highly unlikely that BSF might have permitted,” said the source.
Gurmukh Singh, sarpanch of village Ballowal, said, “The production team approached us almost a month back and asked if they could shoot here. I spoke to farmers whose fields they wanted to use and agreement was reached. Then the set of Wagah Border was prepared in around 20 days. Since it was difficult to get permission to shoot at actual location in Amritsar, they chose our village. Farmers have been given compensation by production house. The shooting here is likely to go on till November 18. However, the cast and crew are not staying in our village. They are staying at a high-end hotel in Ludhiana. They come here for shoot only.”
A senior official from Border Security Force (BSF), requesting not to be named, told The Indian Express, “Under normal circumstances, it is not at all allowed to shoot at Wagah Border. It is a sensitive area and certain security issues are there. We did not receive any request asking for permission to shoot this film at Wagah Border. It is difficult to say if they would have been allowed or not by higher ups. No one can cross border and reach Pakistan side under normal circumstances.”
People dressed in uniforms of BSF and Pakistan Rangers wear seen near the sets of Bharat in Ballowal. However, due to tight security arrangements, entry of common visitors, who are coming to catch a glimpse of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, is restricted till November 18. Only village residents and film crew members are allowed to enter the village.