After Varanasi and Lucknow, Kanpur – once known as the Manchester of the East – is emerging as a favourite shooting location in Uttar Pradesh for Hindi filmmakers.
The spate of films being shot in the city have raised hopes of its subsidiary economy coming alive, with people looking forward to employment and even the hotel industry upgrading itself to meet the demands of the filmmakers.
Kanpur first shot to limelight in 2005 when Bunty Aur Babli showcased the city’s famous sweet shop Thaggu ke Laddoo, the overcrowded Bada Chauraha and the Chandra Shekhar Azad University.
Salman Khan’s Dabangg 2 was based here and the film used montage shots of the Kanpur Kotwali. Filmmaker Vishal Misra then used Kanpur as a canvas for his films – Marudhar Express and Hotel Milan – Khilte Hai Gul Yahan Khil Ke Bikharne Ko.
“Kanpur has a number of virgin locations, which can make the film look realistic and believable. Cities like Lucknow and Varanasi are seen quite often on the big screen, but Kanpur remains unexplored,” said Misra.
Filmmaker Israar Ahmed, who belongs to Kanpur, chose his hometown to shoot his debut film Lateef, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as well as his Rajpal Yadav and Sunil Pal starrer next Super Jasoos.
Stree director Amar Kaushik’s upcoming Ayushmaan Khurana-starrer Bala has been filmed in the city and captures almost all its popular spots, including Mall Road, Civil Lines, the Methodist High School and the Anwarganj Railway Station.
“My film is about a small town person, I thought Kanpur would be an ideal location for it. It has some very attractive locations to show on the big screen,” he said.
Arun Singh Dicky, a line producer, said, “There is growing interest in Kanpur. I get a lot of queries from Bollywood filmmakers who want to shoot in the city.”
A major reason for the sudden interest in Kanpur is its old world charm reflected in locations like the Ganga ghats of Bithoor, tanneries, areas in the old city like Anand Bagh, P. Road, Shivala and DAV Degree College.
“You can find everything from old bungalows to narrow lanes and sprawling resorts here,” said another line producer Mohd Rizwan.
“Director Anubhav Sinha wanted to shoot a sequence of Article 15 near a lake in a village. I searched for such a place and struck upon Bichiya village in the interiors of Kanpur-Lucknow highway. The film was shot there,” he said.