For decades now, Uttarakhand has been producing talent for Bollywood – not just actors, but also directors, lyricists and writers. Of late, even musicians and TV celebrities have found their place in the frontline of performers. This fact must have gone into making the state a top ‘film friendly’ destination for those seeking to shoot their films at its undoubtedly unique locations. There was a time when suggestions had been made that something like a film city be established in Dehradun or, at least, arrangements made to provide shooting equipment on hire in the state, which otherwise has to be brought all the way in trucks from Mumbai for each shoot. Supporting casts have also traditionally been available owing to the once healthy tradition of theatre that existed here.
Somehow, this idea could not take off, but now another opportunity has arisen. If the scale and the funding required for such an enterprise were too much for the hill state, it would be wise to join forces with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in establishing his dream of a film city near Noida. It is being argued that Bollywood’s preferred language has been Hindi in a state where Marathi is the mother-tongue. With Bollywood losing much of its sheen for a number of reasons and technology making it possible not to be so dependent on traditional centres of film-making, it makes sense to take advantage of the energy generated by the Hindi belt. Collaboration by Uttarakhand with UP in the enterprise would give greater impetus to an industry for which the hill people have shown a particular flair.
Uttarakhand already has a Film Development Council with Bollywood and local film-makers providing input to the government on boosting this sector. There is a Rs 25 lakh subsidy for regional film-makers, and a Rs 1.5 crore subsidy for film-makers shooting 75 percent of the film in the state, as also other incentives. How much this has actually got off the ground is not exactly known but there has been an increase in interest among filmmakers. Tying up with the UP initiative will provide both states an added advantage, particularly as the distances are much shorter than all the way to Mumbai, and the talent is raw and unburdened by the ‘traditional’ practices and ‘cliques’ so much in the news these days. Even the Covid-19 constraints have not deterred the shooting schedules of some producers as the hills provide the distancing required. Hopefully, the Uttarakhand Government will make the right moves in this direction.