Volume: 17, No: 09 ; September-2023
Remember Raj Kumar in Mere Huzoor (1968), shot in Lucknow, where he pronounces powerfully and skillfully: “Kaun se aise sheher mein kaun si aisi Firdaus hai jisey hum nahin jaante!”
Then came Palki’s opening song (1967), sung by Mohammad Rafi for Rajendra Kumar, “Aye sheher e Lucknow tujhe mera salaam hai” praising the historic city.
And who doesn’t know that Guru Dutt shot Chaudhvin ka Chand in 1960 in Lucknow. The movie begins by lauding Lucknow at least five times in the song: “Ye Laknau ki sar-zameen, ye rang roop ka chaman, ye husn-o-ishq ka watan, yehi to wo muqaam hai.”
The lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, who is closely associated with the city, conclude with the words: “Nibhaye apni shaan bhi, Badhaye dil ki shaan bhi, Hain aise meherbaan bhi, ye Lakhnau ki sar zameen.”
In Dedh Ishqiya, the Begum Para of Mehmoodabad was brought to life by Madhuri Dixit. Begum Para, extremely beautiful, poised and graceful, meets Naseeruddin Shah, the nawabi poet to dissolve into the sublime cultural richness of the city where people of different religions have been living side by side for centuries, speaking the common language of love. Many a tehzeeb shown on the silver screen is inspired by the rich sophistication of people from different walks of life.
Lucknow is said to be one of the world’s most noteworthy cities for Muslim culture, but hasn’t the culture of Hindus blended and amalgamated customarily so well? It is this most alluring blended way of life that interests the world and is more than once captured and highlighted in Hindi motion pictures time and again. One of the reasons of the profound fascination to the way of life in Lucknow is the incredibly respectful and polished way of talking of the individuals which cannot be ignored by film creators. Have you heard Agha in Sansar from 1951 say, Lucknow chalo ab rani, Bambai ka bigda paani sung by Geeta Dutt and G.M. Durrani?
Could Bollywood become what it is nowadays without the Lakhnavi touch? Customarily Lucknow has impacted Bollywood’s movies in different ways be it shooting, scriptwriting or story background. Lucknow is a city praised by Mirza Ghalib. It is the domestic of Mir Taqi Mir, Mir Anees, Mirza Dabeer, Begum Akhtar, Naushad Ali, Talat Mehmood, Kaifi Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sudhir Mishra, Amrit Lal Nagar, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Wajahat Mirza, Birju Maharaj, Nadira Babbar and Atul Tiwari among others. Theatre bunches have moreover been dynamic within the city playing a significant role in bringing Bollywood to its center.
Lucknow had a huge impact on the Hindi film industry. This is evident from the fact that Pakeezah’s song ‘Chalo Dildar Chalo, Chaand ke Paar chalo’ (1972) was shot against the backdrop of the Gomti River. In the same year, a film called Gomti Ke Kinare starring Meena Kumari was also released.
Muzaffar Ali, also from Lucknow, shot one of the most famous Hindi films here, “Umrao Jaan” (1981). Recalling those days of shooting in Lucknow with Rekha, Farouque Sheikh, Naseeruddin Shah for the iconic classic, Muzaffar Ali said, “I am reminded of a Persian couplet of Emperor Akbar: ‘In the petals of the rose are not dew drops…But tears fallen from the eyes of the nightingale’ What goes into a lens is the pure heartfelt emotion; it is this that makes us stop to think what makes film worthy of a city…or cities worthy of a film and Lucknow certainly is the latter”
Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) was also shot in Lucknow and unlike most of his films in Bengali, the dialogue in this film was in Urdu and Hindi.
Interestingly on some instances, Lucknow has also been used to depict some cities of Pakistan as well, like in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and recently in the blockbuster sequel of the franchise, Gadar 2.
Other notable movies in the city have been Ashok Kumar’s Najma (1943), Rajendra Kumar and Sadhna’s Mere Mehboob (1963) and Anwar (2007).
A range of films have also depicted the musical tradition of Lucknow and glamorized the city’s courtesans, Muslim nobility and its provincial history. Lucknow is the perfect setting for a rustic gangster movie or a serene period drama set in the early 1900s. Lucknow easily provides the backdrop for both these genres and more. The many centuries-old cultures, the fusion of art and technology, and the history behind this picturesque city make Lucknow the epitome of India that no other city can match. A particularly beloved historical drama, the hit, Shootout at Lokhandwala was filmed in Lucknow as it still conveys the Mumbai feel of the 80s.
The list of Bollywood movies shot in Lucknow over the last few years is extensive with many more in the pipeline. Some actors believe it is due to the lush greenery and hassle free shooting environment. Director Habib Faisal shot his movie called Daawat-e-Ishq with Aditya Roy Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra here (even though the story of the movie is based in Hyderabad). The movie might have chosen Lucknow as a destination so to showcase the luscious food items that are available exclusively in the lanes of Lucknow. Tanu weds Manu along with its sequel, Tanu Weds Man Returns, a popular film franchise starring Kangana Ranaut and R Madhavan was also shot here. There are many other movies in the recent years that have been shot here and every other month, continuous shooting keep on happening and with the advent of web series, Lucknow remains a favorite for shooting destinations in India.
It is widely known that Uttar Pradesh’s capital city, Lucknow, is a magnet for Hindi films, and the city’s inhabitants are equally fanatical in their admiration for the stars. Bollywood films often feature the cast and crew in Lucknow, and the local cuisine, such as biryani and Chaat, is often the most popular dish on the set. The combination of enthusiastic audiences, scenic locations, delectable cuisine, and a fusion of traditional Indian culture are some of the reasons for the enduring popularity of Bollywood in Lucknow.
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