Bollywood back in Darjeeling


Darjeeling, June 10: Bollywood is back in Darjeeling.

While it may take some time for the fruits of the agreement — on a new administrative set-up for the hills between the Gorkha Jamukti Morcha and the state government — to concretise, the deal has brought peace and with it, Bollywood. Anurag Basu will explore the life of a Darjeeling boy played by Ranbir Kapoor in Barfee, the shooting for which will begin on June 14.

Former Miss World Priyanka Chopra and Telugu actress Ileana D’Cruz, who will be making her Bollywood debut, will be starring opposite Kapoor in the movie.

The last Hindi commercial film to be shot here was Shah Rukh Khan’s Main Hoon Na in 2003.

“The movie is based in Darjeeling and it is about a boy from here. The shooting will be held till June-end and will again commence from the last week of August to mid-September. This is because we are not sure about the monsoon and while Ranbir is expected to be present throughout the shooting period, Priyanka and Illeana will come as and when they are needed,” said Uday Mani Pradhan, production co-ordinator for the movie.

Basu, known for films like Life in a Metro, will be intertwining all aspects of the hill town in Barfee. “Darjeeling will be extensively shot in the film,” he said.

From the lane and the by-lane to the panoramic views of the hills and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), everything will be captured in frame,” said Pradhan. In fact, the permission for shooting in the DHR reached the team only yesterday.

The director, whose recent films includes the Hrithik Roshan starrer Kites and Murder, will be shot at Chowrasta, Birch Hill Road, Mayanpuri, Ghoom station, Happy Valley tea garden with the town in its background and at the Capitol Clock Tower and the Hall.

“In fact, Darjeeling will be taken to its days in the 1960s and 70s (considered by many as the golden days of Darjeeling). We are converting the Capitol Hall into a cinema hall as it used to be in those days,” said Pradhan who is busy collecting old movie posters.

The movie is expected to showcase Darjeeling like “never before” and shooting is even scheduled in Mirik, 10km from the hill town. “The director visited Darjeeling thrice and was overwhelmed with its beauty. In fact, when he came here, things had not yet settled down but he never felt that shootings could not take place. He was of the opinion that things were much calmer than what was being projected to the outside world,” said Pradhan.

No that no films were shot after Main Hoon Na. In 2009, a Hollywood film Way Back, starring Ed Harris, had used a tea garden near Darjeeling as a location but the hills do not feature by name in the film, going by a faceless “someplace in India”.

“Darjeeling was projected very badly during the past three years. Even during the strife period we shot seven Bengali films without problem. Places like Kaffer and Lava along with Bijanbari has so much potential and Basu believes that Darjeeling could be the next big things in the industry,” said Pradhan.

In the past three years, Pradhan co-ordinated the shooting of four Anjan Dutt films — Sei Gorkha Chelata, Rono and Vicky, Nine Miles and Darjeeling Darjeeling. “Kaushik Ganguly also shot Laptop, Rang Milante and The Promotion during this period,” said Pradhan.

The people of Darjeeling have another reason to be proud. Suravi Pradhan, a local girl who recently completed a course in film direction from Sussex University, will be part of the Barfee team. She was also part of the directorial team in Dutta’s Chowrastha: Crossroads Of Love.