Variety

We've seen it in the movies…

Rhea Lobo | Updated on: Aug 04, 2011

LF05_FILM | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

…now let's see if it's true… sang Cliff Richard, in his Summer Holiday. A growing number of movie-crazy Indians are doing just that when it comes to picking vacation spots.

I'm a huge Bollywood fan, and after watching Jab We Met with my friends, we discussed some of the scenes that were shot in Himachal, but were not sure where exactly the place was,” says Avantika Ghildiyal, 27, an advertising professional.

That curiosity led Avantika and her friends to Hotel Naggar Castle, in Himachal Pradesh, where the film was shot. As Avantika expains, “I went online, typed Jab We Met as the search words, and found the place. We went to Manali for a week and spent half a day at the hotel just to relive the movie, and saw the lush greenery from atop the surrounding mountains.”

Forget advertising and marketing, a great way to get a hotel or tourist destination publicity is to get it featured in a movie, it would seem. For some time now, a growing number of Indian tourists have shown interest in visiting the exotic foreign locales featured in hit movies, and travel companies have been more than happy to tailor suitable packages for them. SOTC's ‘YRF Enchanted Journey' package covering places in Switzerland where films such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge , Mohabbatein , Veer-Zaara , Chandni , Darr and Bachna Ae Haseeno were shot has been a big hit, the company says.

In a recent trend, however, many Indian tourists are looking no further than home turf when it comes to visiting locations of their favourite movies, and extended weekends are proving ideal to explore incredible India.

“We have witnessed a surge in demand for holidays to locations where movies have been shot just after the movies have become famous. These holidays are especially popular with honeymooners and first-time travellers,” says Kashmira Commissariat, COO, Outbound Division, Kuoni India.

Visuals are the most important tool in selling holidays, and that's what movies do for destination promotion, says Deepak Tuli, Head, Goibibo.com. In fact, a quick search online shows that some travel companies have already cottoned on to this and are promoting domestic destinations and hotels by linking them to the movies shot there — even lines such as “stay in the same room as the celebs” or “sleep on the same bed that Bollywood stars have slept in” are seen on some of these sites. Some resorts even offer packages named after the movie — such as the ‘ Raavan package' at Rainforest resort in Athirapally, Kerala.

“Movies help in deciding the place. What Bollywood does is cherry pick the best location. Then my friends and I go to credible Web sites such as TripAdvisor to read reviews of the place,” says Avantika.

Liza Saha, a communications consultant, went to Chail Palace in Himachal Pradesh during a long weekend in April, after reading reviews online. But she was unaware that a part of the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots was filmed there, until she bumped into a visiting family that excitedly told her about the movie connection. “I love historical monuments, and it's an added attraction that 3 Idiots was shot there,” says Liza.

She is also always pleasantly surprised to spot a familiar monument in a movie. “Humayun's tomb, which is featured in Fanaa , is close to home in Delhi,” she adds

This unfolding trend is great news for travel companies. “Wherever Bollywood leaves its footprint, the tourism industry reaps benefits,” says Tejbir Singh Anand, President, Adventure Tours Operators' Association of India, pointing to the fillip given to Goa tourism by the hit film Dil Chahta Hai . He adds that more tourists are now opening up to the idea of adventure sports after watching the recently released Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara .

Smriti Mehta, who recently completed her post-graduation in fashion designing, says she was inspired to visit Rishikesh after watching Aisha last year and “wanted to do the same things they did in the movie... The camping and river rafting looked so nice”. Four months ago, she went with a group of 15-20 people. At Rishikesh, the locals pointed out the spots where Aisha was shot. “One night, in the same setting where the song Sham was picturised in the movie — with all the lamps, bonfire and the nice weather — we played the song and relived those scenes,” she recalls.

Travel companies list Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Goa, Rishikesh and Rajasthan as the most popular destinations. With demand looking up, film-driven domestic tourism is doing good business. “These packages are doing extremely well and have a huge potential in future,” says Kashmira, who adds that SOTC also gets queries for customised packages.

Mumbai resident Bhavana Tulsiyani got married earlier this year and wanted to go some place special for her honeymoon — she had visited Mahabaleshwar and Goa once too often and was tired of shopping and beaches, she says. A big movie buff, like Avantika, Jab We Met played a decisive role in finalising her honeymoon destination — Himachal Pradesh. “It's my favourite movie, I think I've watched it a hundred times already,” she says.

Filmy locations

Woodville Palace Hotel, Himachal Pradesh —Black , Raju Chacha

Chomu Palace, Rajasthan Bhool Bhulaiyaa , Gulaal

Orchard Palace, Gujarat Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Pollachi, Tamil Nadu —Billu

Bhedaghat, Madhya Pradesh Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai , Asoka

Bekal fort, Kerala —Bombay

Published on August 04, 2011
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