Uttar Pradesh is emerging as the new Bollywood destination as A-listers have opted to shoot their films in the state and filmmakers are also busy exploring virgin locations. Officials say that the film-friendly policies and favourable conditions have evinced interest in shooting in the state.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is already shooting in the state capital for his upcoming movie, "Gulabo Sitabo". Popular films like "Raid", "Bareilly ki Barfi", "Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana" and "Toilet Ek Prem Katha" were also shot in Uttar Pradesh.
The much-loved films like "Mukti Bhawan", "Masaan", "Ranjhana", "Laga Chunri Mein Daag" and "Bunty Aur Babli" were shot in Varanasi. Karan Johar's much-awaited film "Brahmastra" is also being shot in Varanasi.
According to Principal Secretary Information and Tourism, Avanish Awasthi, Uttar Pradesh provides the most favourable conditions and resources for film production.
"We offer subsidy if the film fulfils the set criteria and we make sure that the film units get all security and assistance. We have got approval for 21 films by the Script Examination Committee which means there will be more shooting in Uttar Pradesh in the coming months," he said.
The state government has also formed a committee in every district called the 'Film Facilitation Committee' which can be contacted at the time of any problem or any inconvenience. If the problem is not resolved then film producers-directors can contact 'Film-Bandhu' division for any assistance.
Lucknow, in particular, has been a favourite for filmmakers. 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 that have come up are also an attraction for filmmakers.
In several cases, the owners of these locations have not charged a penny for shooting. The only 'charge' is a photograph with the stars or an invitation to a meal.
Earlier, Akshay Kumar had shot extensively in Lucknow for "Jolly LLB 2". "Lucknow Central", "Ishaqzaade" and "Dawat-e-Ishq" were set in the backdrop of Lucknow. John Abraham's upcoming "Batla House" is another Lucknow based film. The critically acclaimed movie "Mulk" was also shot in the city of Nawabs.
D.K. Singh, who works as a Liaison Officer cum arranger for film units, said: "The government has come up with film-friendly policies and even the bureaucracy is going easy with permissions. Residents no longer go berserk on seeing film stars and there is definite ease in crowd management. The atmosphere, in general, is more relaxed and filmmakers get a good mix of urban as well as the rural location in and around Lucknow. Besides, there are innumerable hotels in the state capital that suit every budget."
The biggest factor which is drawing filmmakers to the state is that in recent years, there has been no major law and order problem related to film and its subject.
Earlier, shooting of films like "Gadar- Ek Prem Katha" was temporarily stalled because some Muslim clerics objected to some of the names mentioned in the film.
The unit of Deepa Mehta's "Water" had to leave Varanasi without shooting even a single frame because the residents objected to the subject of widow remarriage.