Political hotbed, culturally rich Varanasi woos filmmakers
Varanasi, which has taken centre stage in the country's electoral politics since Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it his Lok Sabha constituency, has...
Varanasi, which has taken centre stage in the country's electoral politics since Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it his Lok Sabha constituency, has become an exciting place for filmmakers to explore.
The filmmakers also feel that the Uttar Pradesh government's film policy has contributed in a huge way to ease out their woes.
The crew of Karan Johar's mega production "Brahmastra", which stars Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, is currently in Varanasi to shoot.
Megastar Rajinikanth also shot for his movie "Petta" in the city, said to be one of the oldest in the world. Its beauty attracted Puri Jagannadh for his next Telugu film and Zaigham Imam's latest release "Nakkash" was also shot in Varanasi.
While its picturesque ghats, iconic temples and the expanse and serenity of the Ganges have for long attracted Indian and international filmmakers, Imam pointed out multiple factors that have helped it to emerge as a preferred filming destination.
In "Nakkash", Imam explores the story of a Muslim craftsman who uses his skills to engrave Hindu temples in Varanasi.
His first film "Dozakh - In Search of Heaven" (2012) told a story of Hindu-Muslim clash and was also set in the same city.
According to Vikramjit Roy, Head, Film Facilitation Office, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Uttar Pradesh's film-friendly policy has also helped.
The state's film policy was unveiled in 2015, offering tax exemptions and incentives as well as subsidies to movie makers.
Dinesh Kumar Sahgal, Planning officer, Information and Public Relation Department, Uttar Pradesh, said a subsidy of up to 25 per cent of total budget was given to filmmakers.
If 50 per cent of the shoot is done in Uttar Pradesh, a subsidy amounting to Rs 1 crore is given to production houses.
If two-third of a film is shot in the State, then a subsidy amounting to Rs 2 crore is given. And if makers take actors belonging to the state itself, they will be provided with additional Rs 25 lakh subsidy, Sahgal said.
Imam said the quality and availability of equipment and manpower in Varanasi was not as conducive to Bollywood filmmakers.