Book Review: Filmi Escapes-Travel With The Movies

filmi-escapes-3D-indThe song Mere Sapnon Ki Raani Kab Aayegi Tu is nothing short of a cult classic. As Rajesh Khanna drives along the winding roads of Derjeeling, Sharmila Tagore, visibly amused by his song, tries to hide her blushing face behind a book. But does anyone remember the name of the book she was pretending to read? No? Take this one then. Martial arts icon Jackie Chan trained in Kalaripayattu for his 2005 film The Myth in Kerala. Name the institute, where our very Bollywood stars like Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Abhishek Bachchan have trained, too. What about the Khan who loves this getaway in the Ghats so much that he decided to get married in a heritage bungalow there and ended up buying it too? Lonely Planet’s latest travel guide, Filmi Escapes: Travel with the Movies, is that rare celebration of exotic Indian destinations told through unforgettable movie moments shot there. You will find the answers to these questions in this guide along with a lot more film trivia accompanying each destination.

The guide is a must have for every film and travel buff and is quite a treat with some wonderful photographs. Although it covers already famous destinations like Delhi, Mumbai, Ladakh, Udaipur, Kerala, Ooty and the like, it does so with a twist. Apart from the usual ‘getting there’, ‘best time to visit’ and ‘sight-seeing highlights’, Filmi Escapes has a detailed list of scenes, songs and stories to go with every spot of interest. Added info in the form of snippets of trivia, behind the scene gossips and memorable film dialogues spice it up. The guide also gives out little secrets like that the Kasauli of Rakesh Roshan’s Koi… Mil Gaya was actually part Canada and part Nainital, Mani Ratnam’s Roja had Ooty stepping in as Kashmir and many more. With a preface written by filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee, the guide also suggests short detours within the bigger destinations and tips on getting the most out of the specialties of each area. Other celebrities like Karan Johar, Raima Sen, Muzaffar Ali, Mahesh Bhatt, Nargis Fakhri and Santosh Sivan, too, share their travel and filming experiences. While Fakhri writes about exploring Delhi while shooting for her debut film Rockstar, Johar picks three of his favourite films based in Mumbai.

Researched and written by Juhi Saklani, Filmi Escapes is a perfect tribute to the films we love and the locations it has shown us on screen. However, we wish the guide would have taken us through lesser known locations, too, rather than sticking to the staple ones. For instance, Banerjee, in the preface, writes about Ramanagaram in Bangalore where the blockbuster Sholay was shot entirely, but the guide doesn’t mention it elsewhere. Also, although the dining options mentioned cover a wide price range, accomodation options listed are limited to high-end ones with no mentions of budget hotels or homestays. From the south, only Mani Ratnam’s and Santosh Sivan’s movies get a mention and even in terms of destinations, the guide hugely overlooks south India even as it covers the whole length and breadth of north India.
And as for the answers to the questions we started off with. Tagore is pretending to read Alistair MacLean’s detective novel When Eight Bells Toll; Chan, the Khans and Bachchan Junior trained at Kozhikode’s CVN Kalari Centre; and Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan got married at the heritage bungalow Meherbai House at Panchgani, a place where the actor has shot for three of his acclaimed films–Raja Hindustani, Taare Zameen Par and Mangal Pandey.

Filmi Escapes: Travel with the Movies
By Juhi Saklani
Price: Rs 595
Pages: 352
Published by: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd

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