ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

12. A set for a dream

a pair of hands with a film board infront of montains

In India, cinema makes you dream and escape from reality.
Masala movies” are a popular melodrama where action, comedy and romance are mixed in a plot where everything can happen – everything, except reality.
When Indians watch a movie, they empathize with protagonists’ emotions and they take part in lives they don’t expect to experience for real. Songs will make those dreams come true, condensing the imaginary in the rhythm of dancing.
If you would live in an hot, tropical place crowded by people, where would your imaginary take you? Indian moviemakers, masters of hot weather, figured it out, and took their production in the mountains.

Besides filming whole movies in the mountains, there are many more (from Bollywood to Tollywood) where only songs are shot there. Snow-white mountaintops, rivers, waterfalls, crystal ponds and blossoming woods are perfect sets for a love song – but most of all, they are deeply enthralled in Indian culture. Mountains, house of gods par excellence, are symbols of purity, morality (in opposition with city’s corruption) and glaciers are a common metaphor for eternal love.  During the 80s, Kashmir was a perfect place to shot in the mountains (see this video, from Himalay Ki Godmein – 1965) but after some political and military conflicts between India and Pakistan, moviemakers moved to safer locations. Some movies were shot on the slopes of Himalaya, in the cities of Himachal Pradesh, or Sikkim. Two examples: “Barsaat Ki Ek Raat” (1981), starring the great Amithabh Bhacchan that you can see in the video on the right, and Henna (1991, watch and listen to the song “Main Hoon Khushrang Henna”).
In the 90s, locations went more exotic. Mountains represented ideal destinations, but Kashmir’s war and public taste changed the rules, and pushed movie productions abroad. With Yash Chopra, Indian Cinema discovers Swiss Alps. Indian clothes and bollywoodian dances in-between bell towers and tame milk cows – a spicy ingredient to make the Indian spectator comfortable with countries far away.
Thus for Switzerland, a golden era for tourism started: in fact, it quickly became a popular destination for Indians willing to see with their own eyes the marvelous mountains in which their movies were made.
But Indian cinematography went farer. While spectators grow more demanding, locations were of the essence to suit their needs to explore the world through the film. New Zealand, Spain, Greece, South America and even Italy. No longer mountains, but seaside. Gargano became the perfect location for Housefull (2010), a best selling movie (more than 400 tickets have been sold) that introduced Apulia (southern Italy) to the Indian public.
Foreign countries are trendy, but some moviemakers are working to re-discover the beauty of their homeland. Will India dream of herself, or the dream must be far away to be satisfying?
Time will tell. Just keep going to the cinema!

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