Uttarakhand growing in popularity as preferred film destination

People working in the field of art and cinema always explore places to connect with nature and pen down experiences in solitude and solace. They consider it as liberty to drench down in thoughts away from the hustle-bustle of cities in the lapse of nature and then produce something like a meandering river going up and down at its own pace making its route.

Due to its picturesque mountains, rivers, landscapes, and unique vernacular architecture, Uttarakhand has always been on this list of creative places since colonial times till the present era. Rudyard Kipling, Ruskin Bond, Arvind Adiga, Stephen Alter, or others, all have found and elaborated their stories in this beautiful contour of the Himalayas. Not just only authors and writers but people of popular culture like cinema have also come here for finding a suitable location to add meaning to their stories.

Many big names of the Hindi film industry have explored different regions of this part of the Himalayas for shooting purposes. Like for instance, the famous film of legendary actor Sunil Dutt and elegant Mala Sinha, Gumrah (1963) was shot in Naini Lake of the Nainital district which established it as an epitome of love and romance.

Afterwards, many other actors and actresses have been shown romancing in the background of this lake. However the most iconic is of Rajesh Khana, Kati Patang (1971) that has left an indelible impression of this lake in the minds of many. Later the critically acclaimed movie, Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) started the trend to shoot in the raw and picturesque terrains. It was the first film that prominently talked about the Harsil region of the Uttarkashi District. Soon many films of different genres like GharkaChirag (1989), Sirf Tum (1999), Armaan (2003), Lakshya (2004), and many others have followed its footsteps and shot partially or completely here.

Initially, the Forest Research Institute, Nainital, and Mussorie were the most desirable locations but in recent years the lesser-known areas are gaining momentum and attracting the directors and producers of not only the Hindi film industry but Tamil, Telugu as well as Hollywood producers to come and shoot here.

Elaborating more about the plans Tourism Minister Uttarakhand, Shri Satpal Maharaaz said, “We are continuously working to develop Uttarakhand as a preferred film destination around the globe. For the year 2021, our focus is to promote and share our folklores with famous producers and directors so that series and movies can be made using the stories.”

Adding more to this, Secretary Tourism Dilip Jawalkar said, “Uttarakhand has always attracted tourists from all over the globe. Our focus now is to develop more film-friendly to the potential producers willing to shoot in the state.”

The state also offers the best film policies for the producers and directors. Some such policies are as follows-

  • Uttarakhand has been developed as a state with skilled manpower in terms of mobility of goods and technical aspects
  • 50% discount for Film units during the time of shooting will be provided on rest houses of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd.
  • Based on merit, Films having more than 50% or more outdoor shooting in Uttarakhand will be made Tax free
  • The State may consider financing (up to INR 1.5 Crores) for Hindi films with production cost up to INR 2 Crores on the shoot of minimum 75% in Uttarakhand.
  • Incentives for expenditure incurred in the processing of Films produced in Uttarakhand regional language: 30% or up to INR 25 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if processing is done in Uttarakhand situated lab, else 25% or INR 20 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if the processing is done outside
  • Incentives for expenditure incurred in the processing of Regional Films other than Uttarakhand for which 75% or more shooting is done in Uttarakhand language: 30 or INR 15 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if the processing is done in Uttarakhand situated lab, else 25 or INR 10 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if the processing is done outside.
  • Uttarakhand government also has a ‘Single Window Clearance System’ allowing investors to avail the necessary State Government approvals to establish and start their business operations through a single platform without any physical touch point with the approving/licensing authority.

Adding more about the policies and projects, Uttarakhand Film Tourism Board Nodal Officer K.S Chauhan said, “After the release of the film policies in Uttarakhand 2015, more than 400 films, songs, and serials have been granted permission here for shoots which is one of the huge figures in itself. This also the result of our film-friendly policies, Single window clearance system, best-shooting destinations, Honorable CM himself involving to ensure smooth shooting in Uttarakhand. This influx in the shoot has increased the revenue and has also generated employment for the local people. With our continuous efforts and filmmaker’s feedback report we received Special Mention Award in 2017, Most Film Friendly First Prize in 2018, and Best Film Tourism Destination Award in 2019 awarded by the Government of India”