,When we talk about the power of cinema and Bollywood, we might not realise its transformational impact. Travellers of the present day are their own master. With a phone in one hand and a travel bag in another, we are off on an adventure. We get to create travel Boards or save Reels for future reference, but we never falter for choices.
However, even two decades ago, the restless traveller had very little that could guide their way. After all, who could have even imagined the possibility of walking through blooming tulips or trek across undulating hills?
Enter Bollywood and the Kings of Romance, Yash Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan, and there you have thousands of Indians yearning to go on a solo trip through Europe as in DDLJ or wanting to pose at iconic film locations.
Also read: World’s Top 10 Romantic Destinations
Yash Chopra’s Vision
It was Yash Chopra’s fervour to direct stunning visuals set amidst pristine lakes and cascading hills that set ablaze the passions of the 20th century hodophile. The original romantic of Bollywood, Chopra reigned over the imagination of the masses. A common man of the time could not have dreamt of seeing the Swiss Alps. Somehow, Chopra’s magic brought the scene to life. Be it Sri Devi, clad in her iconic yellow saree in Chandni, set amidst lush greenery, or Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s scenic road trip, the heart of the spectator blossomed with pleasure as the eyes drank in the mesmerising visuals.
Soon, Switzerland emerged as Yash Chopra’s favourite shooting location. He reimagined the way Indian movies were shot. The lakes of Kashmir gave way to those of Switzerland. Today, you will come across guided tours that make their way through some of Chopra’s most iconic locations, especially in Interlaken, Gstaad, and Saanen.
Eventually, Yash Chopra’s contributions to making Switzerland a top tourist destination for Indians did not go without recognition from the country. The Switzerland Tourism Authority has honoured by the on several occasions.
Not only Switzerland, Britain too, emerged as a new found love. Multiple films like Lamhe (1991) and later DDLJ, and Mujhse Dosti Karogi, among innumerable others would feature the winding roads, grand Victorian buildings and tranquil lakes of Britain.
Yash Chopra’s languid style influenced a new generation of film-makers, be it his own son, Aditya Chopra or his protégé, Karan Johar. Johar’s initial films such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai focused on Britain, although he quickly shifted his focus to New York. However, the impact of Bollywood on travelling trends did not escape the British Tourism Authority’s attention. They soon came up with a Bollywood Movie Map, a guide meandering its way through all of Bollywood’s most memorable shooting spots in Britain.
As the beacon passes on from one generation to the next, we see the intertwining of the ardour of two mavens. This is where we see the confluence of the magic of the romantics of Bollywood. Besides, the romanticism of Yash Chopra influenced his son Aditya Chopra, who on his directorial debut of DDLJ, transformed the landscape of Indian cinema. The wizardry of Yash’s visuals were the perfect backdrop for SRK’s devilish charm.
The phenomenon that was SRK
Shah Rukh Khan cannot be simply called an actor. With thousands of adoring fans, King Khan has served some of the best romantic movies of the 90s and 2000s. The image of a young Shah Rukh strumming his mandolin amidst a yellow sarson ka khet in DDLJ remains etched in our minds. Even on its re-released today, 27 years after it initially hit theatres, Shah Rukh continues to make people swoon with his charming looks, flirty lines and impeccable acting.
Wanderlust with SRK
With iconic movies like Kabhi Alvida Naa Kenha (featuring Columbia University and Manhattan Bridge), Kal Ho Naa Ho (featuring Brooklyn Bridge Park) and My Name is Khan being shot in New York, fans thronged to get their pictures clicked at these locations.
However, King Khan was not limited to New York, Switzerland and Britain. We see him romance Rani Mukherjee in Athens and Mykonos as he follows her to Greece in Chalte Chalte. In Suraj Hua Madhham, the iconic jodi of SRK-Kajol set the screen ablaze. Shot in Egypt, with the Great Pyramid of Giza in the backdrop.
All this discussion of America and Europe does not mean that the beauty of our own land was forgotten. Be it in Veer Zara or DDLJ, the rural hinterlands of Punjab accentuate the blossoming romance between SRK and his lead heroine. In Main Hoon Na, the serene hills of Darjeeling come to life with passion and drama, as Shah Rukh disguises himself as a student to protect an army officer’s estranged daughter. In Swades, the America-return NASA scientist vows to develop his village- a movie shot in Wai, Maharashtra.
Bollywood and Transformation
Bollywood is not just about making movies. The film industry is an active agent in dictating social patterns, be it fashion, relationship dynamics or travel choices. After all, who would not want to emulate the lives of these heroes, who seem to not have a care in the world and always get their happy endings.
Romantics such as Yash Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan have impacted our lives in ways we may not be able to fathom. However, we would definitely be able to discern the power of popular imagination. The exotic flowers, sprawling blue skies and gushing waterfalls need no longer be things we see on Television. And for someone bewitched by wanderlust, all you need is an excuse. With the drop of a hat, you have bid adieu to your house and are trudging your way to the Swiss Alps.