get your chiffon saree, said my friend durga whom you may know if you’re a regular at writersbrew, and jhumkas… and dance with the hero as per tradition. i guffawed staring at the message; we were waiting at the airport, about to take the flight to zurich. switzerland has always been a favourite for hindi film song sequences because there are so many beautiful locations like the metropole hotel in geneva or lake geneva to film at. one moment you are in a delhi garden or on bombay marine drive or a plush garish set in a studio and the next you’re runnnnning through some alpine meadow, ducking behind snowy slopes, shimmying, swaying, doing all that you have to do when singing away and dancing in a swiss moment in a hindi phillum.
raj kapoor was the pioneer and started the trend. in 1964, sangam, his first colour film, had several sequences shot in “foreign locales,” venice, paris, switzerland. there was cool romancing and some french speaking too.
then came the corny but cute evening in paris by shakti samanta. “akele akele” (al0ne… alone…) echoing in an alpine valley, shammi kapoor wooing sharmila tagore from a ski lift, while she pouted from another, bouffant hair, red slacks. ohhh too good. but i am wondering how the “extras” kept a straight face through it all.
when yash chopra honeymooned here, of course, he realised romance means switzerland. even train stations are places to sing dance fall in love.
my fave switzerland sequence is from a movie which was not shot here. yaadon ki baraat, when baddie ajit in white suit looking suitably menacing and prowling in a garish set, tells his son that after causing enough and more mayhem, he shall escape in a helicopter and go off to swizzerlaaaaynd.
just realised, this fabulous song was also shot in the land of the alps. dev anand very dreamy and dapper in his tyrolean hat. raj kapoor wasn’t too bad in it either. and years later, shah rukh khan had that very alpine headgear on while he romanced in the film that would become the world’s longest running film… ddlj.
hindi films were far from my mind though as i walked about the majestic, almost aloof, and beautiful zurich. after a couple of days we came to geneva, and of course, the first thing we had to do was go and see lac léman.
it was on the way to the lake that we came across the bollywood restaurant. my husband’s eyes gleamed… indian food. he’s been eating continental fare for almost a week. he dashed in looking elated, conversed with waiter like they’d known each other forever, and we of course went there for lunch around 4pm after the lake walk. nice samosas, we both said no to kingfisher beer, and settled for carlsberg. our filmi way of loving india and saying nahiiiin (noooooo) to vijay mallya, i guess. ash looked at us from under layers of ott jewellery, srk had taken off his shirt for the occasion. akele akele we go nowhere, where ever we go, hindi films/bollywood always with us.
nice spot for a hero villain fight on top of that building, don’t you think?
a window for the nri and cineplex audience version of padosan.
ohhhh the possibilities of this spot. i can quite see the hero and the heroine leaping around that jet d’eau, flirting and singing, shaking their heads in unison to a solid hindi gana rhythm. the fountain is located at the point where lake geneva flows into the rhone and is visible throughout the city. even from 33,000 feet above the ground. maybe the heroine could be flying a plane and the hero be singing out to her from his yacht just by the fountain? impossible? that word has never existed in hindi films.