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Bollywood's Affair with the City of Nawabs

Bollywood’s love affair with the City of Nawabs, Lucknow, is not recent at all but has garnered more publicity recently.

Bollywood Movies Lucknow
Javed Akhtar, Nadira Babbar, Baba Sehgal are some of the famous Bollywood personalities from Lucknow.

Lucknow is the perfect setting for a rustic gangster drama or a serene period film set in the early 1900s. Lucknow easily provides a backdrop for both these genres and more. The deeply ingrained multiple cultures, the amalgamation of art and technology and the history behind the picturesque city makes Lucknow epitomise India in a way no other city can.

An especial favourite for period dramas, the hit movie Shootout at Lokhandwala was shot in Lucknow as it still channels the vibe of Mumbai from the 80s since Mumbai, or Bombay as it was then called, has undergone such drastic changes.

Bollywood Affair Lucknow
A still from Shootout at Lokhandwala.

The list of Bollywood movies shot in Lucknow over the last 5 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 has shot his third consecutive movie called Daawat-e-Ishq with Aditya Roy Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra here (even though the story of the movie is based in Hyderabad) following Ishaqzaade and Ladies vs Ricky Bahl. Tanu weds Manu along with its soon-to-be-shot sequel, Youngistaan, Bullet Raja, Ishq ke Parindey, Desi Bomb, Kerry on Kutton starring Adhyayan Suman are just some of the movies that have been set here.

Bollywood Affair with City of Nawabs Lucknow
Dawat-e-Ishq Stills

Forthcoming movies include Milan Talkies with Varun Dhawan and Katrina Kaif. Even Amitabh Bachchan along with Rishi Kapoor and Chitrangada Singh will be taking Lucknow by a storm with a movie called Mehrunnisa set in 1945 to be shot in the Chowk area. This movie is to be directed by Sudhir Mishra who is from Lucknow and understands the nuances and undercurrents the city has to offer.

Even the movie director Vishal Bhardwaj seems to prefer this city for its poetic language and rustic grandeur as he has shot multiple movies here the most recent being Dedh Ishqiya. It is not just Bollywood movies anymore.

Lucknow Film Shooting
Stills from Dedh Ishqiya

If you remember the famous movie Anwar, released in 2007? The film which was shot in Lucknow and Kakori (near Lucknow). Rich in music, you can still tune in to the mystic Maula Mere Maula from the movie Anwar; and if you are watching the video of the song then do not forget to visit the Kothi in Kakori, as the song was shot there.

Even television serials are being extensively shot in this city. The most recent being Ek Thi Naayika and Savdhan India hosted by Sushant Singh will be shot around various areas and localities of Lucknow.

When it comes to Lucknow, the City of Nawabs, how can we not include the 1981-Epic Umrao Jaan starring Rekha and Farooq Sheikh. Umrao Jaan by Muzaffar Ali was shot in Lucknow and its vicinity, Malihabad and Faizabad.

Lucknow Bollywood Movie Shooting
Rekha in Umrao Jaan

Apart from the movies being canned here, Lucknow is also known for having produced some of Bollywood’s biggest stalwarts. Perhaps the most known of these are the music composer Naushad Ali and Pandit Birju Maharaj who is one of India’s most respected Kathak dancers. Other stalwarts include Javed Akhtar and Kaifi Azmi whose romantic poetry is reminiscent of the city they hail from. Actress Nadira Babbar and singers Talat Mehmood and Baba Sehgal also come from this city.

That the capital city of Uttar Pradesh is Bollywood crazy is a known fact and movie stars enjoy the adoration they receive from the residents of the city. The cast and crew of Bollywood movies being shot in Lucknow are often treated to home-cooked food prepared by locals with Lucknowi Biryani and local chaat being a favourite on set. Bullet Raja was one such movie that was treated to the food as was Dedh Ishqiya. Adoring crowds, scenic locations, delicious cuisines and an indigenous mix of cultures are only some of the factors which help in the continued love affair shared between Bollywood and Lucknow.

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