Bollywood Goes to Small Indian Towns as Plots Get Real

As plots get more real (and somewhat experimental) in Bollywood films, filmmakers go to smaller towns and cities in India to capture a realistic feel in the movies.


Gunday was shot in Durgapur & kolkata
Gunday in kolkata

Long back, small and realistic films were classified as ‘art films’ and were not considered as part of mainstream cinema in India. However, things have changed a lot today and there’s an audience for the small to medium budget hindi movies targeting a niche crowd.

And these movies are best shot in the bustling small towns of India, and not in some exotic locations abroad! Even the Bollywood stars are increasingly embracing the heat and dust of India’s smaller towns that offer wide open landscapes and beautiful natural backdrops for movies.


Dedh Ishqiya was shot in & around Lucknow in UP in North India
Dedh Ishqiya in lucknow

Small Town Directors & Writers

Another reason for this development is that several contemporary Mumbai directors and screenwriters in the industry from small towns. Their sensibilities and stories are, therefore, different from those of filmmakers who grew up surrounded by Bollywood alone.


Kai Po Che was shot in Ahmedabad & other places in Gujarat
kai po che in Gujarat & ahmedabad

Anurag Kashyap spent his formative years in Varanasi; Tigmanshu Dhulia in Allahabad; Vishal Bhardwaj in Meerut. Zeishan Quadri, screenwriter for Gangs of Wasseypur was born in Wasseypur, Dhanbad.

Producers & filmmakers now see enormous potential in the small/regional town stories, because of the raw edginess and power that it offers. Besides, some of them feel that big cities (especially those abroad) have been overexposed as a source of visual inspiration & even for stories.


raanjhanaa was shot in Banaras in UP, Uttar Pradesh
Raanjhanaa was shot in banaras in UP, Uttar Pradesh

Helps Travel

Research done by Lonely Planet shows that almost 60 per cent of Indian travelers are influenced by Indian cinema, aspiring to travel to specific locations shown in the movies.


Shuddh Desi Romance shot in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Bollywood in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The fact that there is a growing and dynamic nexus between travel and cinema is well established. In November last, Lonely Planet India launched a unique guide titled Filmi Escapes: Travel with the Movies.


Lagaan was shot in Bhuj, Gujarat
lagaan shot in bhuj, gujarat

How important a film shoot could be for a state was brought home last year when Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to berate the makers of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani for passing off Gulmarg and Pahalgam as Manali. “It is irritating that we roll out the red carpet and facilitate the shoot only to have people believe it’s Manali,” he had angrily tweeted post the film’s release.

While the tourism boards of several foreign countries continue to woo Bollywood producers with tax breaks and subsidies, several Indian states, too, have now jumped into the fray.


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