To choose an exotic location for a movie is one thing while bringing out the beauty of that place to screen is another. Going one step further, making the location- whether for its political significance or the general ambiance pivotal to the plot is something only exceptional film-makers can pull off. And it’s on that last front that the movies listed here score high- 10 Hollywood films that feature famous Indian destinations.
1. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button- Varanasi
The movie which came out in 2008 told the story of Benjamin Button’s curious case of reverse-aging, whereby he shrinks in size as he grows older. The winner of multiple Academy Awards, the movie has scenes in which Brad Pitt visits what’s to the Westerner one of the most exotic Indian destinations- Varanasi.
2. The Dark Knight Rises- Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
The character of Batman is one that has remained a favorite with comic book lovers for a long time. But Gotham’s mighty vigilante failed to impress movie audiences, even when such talents as Tim Burton were behind the movie adaptations. Not until Christopher Nolan redefined the character as a dark brooding kind did he click with the movie-watchers. And The Dark Knight Rises, one of the films in Nolan’s franchise involves a jail escape scene for which the filming location was the Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur.
3. Zero Dark Thirty- Chandigarh
The Academy Award winning movie has the hunt for Osama Bin Laden as the theme. The story had Abbottabad in Pakistan as the setting. However, the filmmakers weren’t granted permission to shoot there. So, as an alternative they chose Chandigarh- more precisely, the premises of the Punjab Engineering College and also parts of DAV College.
4. The Bourne Supremacy- Goa
One of the best use of an Indian location as a setting for an action sequence is to be found in the second film in the Bourne series. While Goa has been featured in a few films- both home made and others, the hand held camera usage and the grain-infused look of the frames made us see Goa in a completely different way in this one.
5. Mission Impossible 4- Bora Bazaar, Mumbai/ Bengaluru
The movie had Anil Kapoor appearing in a cameo and also had multiple shooting locations in India. The climax scene takes place in the Bora Bazaar of Mumbai while some scenes in the film had the office of Sun TV in Bengaluru as the location.
6. Octopussy- Udaipur
This James Bond flick came out in 1983. The Roger Moore starrer involves the spy thwarting a villain’s attempt to disarm Europe with a nuclear weapon. It also has a scene in which James Bond infiltrates a palace- the location for which was a palace in Udaipur.
7. A Mighty Heart- Pune and Mumbai
Based on the book by Mariane Pearl- the widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Steet journalist murdered by the Al Qaida has Angelina Jolie playing Mariane. The story took place in Pakistan though the film-makers couldn’t gain a permit to shoot there. So, Pune and Mumbai were the proxy locations.
8. Eat, Pray, Love- Delhi, Haryana
The movie has Julia Roberts travelling across multiple countries eating, praying and loving. And when it comes to praying, you know that hardly any place beats India. For that reason, the film had such places as the Ashram Hari Mandir in Pataudi, Haryana as locations.
9. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel- Jaipur and Udaipur
The film that had such acclaimed actors as Judie Dench and Maggie Smith portrays the lives of British retirees who come down to India to vacation. And a lion-share of the film was shot in Udaipur and Jaipur-not surprising considering how these places are great vacation destinations.
10. The Darjeeling Limited- Udaipur, Jodhpur
The Wes Anderson directed film tells the story of three brothers- played by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody coming together in India as part of their spiritual pursuit. The film is wildly colourful as is the staple with Anderson and was shot extensively in Jodhpur and Udaipur.
Owing to its fame as the spiritual cradle of the world and also its multi-cultural exotica, India has always attracted the attention of the western world. Oddly enough, the number of foreign films shot in the country-rife with mesmerizing places isn’t many. With Indian film-makers opting for foreign locales all the time, maybe it’s time for some quid pro quo?