Rohit Shetty has shot all three films of his Golmaal franchise in Goa. Shetty considers Goa lucky for the series. But how ‘lucky’ is Goa considering Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey was an unmitigated disaster? Still, there’s something about Goa that attracts Bollywood’s filmmakers like a magnet.
Gowariker says he would happily shoot his next film in Goa if the script demanded it. “I love Goa as a shooting destination. As an actor, I have shot several films in Goa including the late Jalal Agha’s Goonj, Kundan Shah’s Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na and Saeed Mirza’s Circus.
I have the fondest memories of the place.” For him, Goa is about much more than beaches and the sea. “It has got various types of hidden landscapes just waiting to be explored. When I wanted to shoot the location of Chittagong (which is part of Bangladesh) in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, I chose Sawantwadi which is on the border of Goa. If my next film demands it, I’d most certainly return to Goa. It has some advantages over most locations along the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, the most important being the connectivity by road, rail and air. Hence Goa will continue to be a favourite spot for filmmakers.”
However, to find new places in Goa to shoot films is becoming a near-impossibility. Sanjay Leela Bhansali who shot his last film Guzaarish in Goa, spent months trying to find virgin spots in the beautiful sea town. “Every inch of Goa has been shot already. And we needed a fresh look,” says Bhansali.
David Dhawan now faces the dilemma of selecting under-exposed spots in Goa for his new-age version of Sai Paranjpe’s Chashme Buddoor. He has finally zeroed in on the location where he’s now shooting with Rishi Kapoor. “We’re shooting in old Goa. The rest of Goa is over-exposed. We have found an old Portuguese café which we’ve hired for the shooting.”
Virgin, no more
Ananth Mahadevan, who shot his Shahid Kapoor rom-com Dil Maange More in Goa, says it would be difficult to find virgin locations in the state. “Now if I were to shoot there it would have to be old Goa and its classic structures. Not the familiar beaches and hotels. Goa with its beaches, churches and old-world charm has been a perennial haven for filmmakers. Besides Goa’s proximity to Mumbai and Chennai, the government too has some promotional schemes now. But it is a case of milking the location. Unless one visualises the place differently, Goa would appear déjà vu.”
Director Sujoy Ghosh, whose film Kahaani was shot entirely on the streets of Kolkata, has a theory as to why filmmakers choose Goa. “Filmmakers like to go to Goa to write their films. So they develop an attachment to that place which pulls them into shooting the film in Goa. I, too, will only shoot in a location where I’ve spent ample time writing.”
Addictive and charming
Shooting in Goa has become truly addictive for Hindi filmmakers. Rohan Sippy, who faced a lot of flak from the Goan government for depicting the place as a den of drugs in Dum Maaro Dum, is game for another shot at filming in Goa. Says Sippy, “I loved shooting in Goa. Great locations. Very shooting-friendly atmosphere. With the right script, it would be a brilliant location to return to.” He suggests that the Goan government should create better infrastructure for film shooting. “If they could provide studios and equipment, Goa can become a major centre for film shooting.”
Aanand Rai, who shot his Tanu Weds Manu in North India, feels Goa should be used only when it is an integral part of the script. “It is not just a location. Goa has a very strong character and a fantastic attitude. Whenever it is used just to make a film pretty, the effort will backfire. Goa should be cast as the right actor in a film.” Kunal Deshmukh (of Jannat 2 fame) feels Goa still has a lot more to offer. “I don’t believe Goa has lost its charm. It depends on how you see and use Goa. If you only see the beaches and trance parties, then that is all you will get.” He feels Goa is a viable alternative to Mumbai. “Shooting in Mumbai is so difficult and expensive. I haven’t shot a film in Goa yet. But I’d love to if and when the subject demands it. No point in shooting in Goa just for the heck of it.”
Rahul Dholakia, whose film Lamhaa was shot under extremely trying circumstances in Kashmir, thinks Goa is an easy option. “It is inexpensive. It is also close to Mumbai and film units feel relaxed there. I would definitely shoot there if my film were set in Goa. But I would not shoot in Goa just for the heck of it. It’s got a very unusual flavour. Goa has to be a character in the film.”
Interestingly, Kabir Sadanand, who has shot a film in Thailand, feels Goa has become too expensive for shooting. “Off late, it has become difficult to shoot in Goa. I preferred to have a hassle-free shooting schedule in Thailand. The local administration in Goa needs to sort out their revenue structure regarding shooting crews from Bollywood. Only then can one shoot in peace in Goa. Otherwise, Thailand or Vietnam would be better options.”
Hi-jinx, cool dude attitude and easy atmosphere, the stars fall in love with Goa for different reasons
Ayushmann Khurrana: Goa is in India but it seems as if it belongs to the world. I never get tired of going to Goa. Every time I go, it’s a new and different experience. I think it must be the most sought-after holiday destination in India. I make it a point to go to Goa at least twice a year. You get everything in Goa, from film festivals to vacations.
Pooja Bhatt: Goa is always exciting because there are many Goas within Goa to revel in. I don’t go there during the party season because it’s full of people you truly want to avoid. The monsoon is the season when to me, Goa is at its best. I have a home there. For me, it is more than a holiday destination. I got married in Goa.
Jackie Shroff: Being a Mumbai guy, I find Goa to be how Mumbai must have been before it became a concrete jungle.
Shabana Azmi: I never go to Goa for a holiday. I live by the beach in Mumbai and it doesn’t make sense for me to go to another seaside venue. I much prefer the mountains. But the kids love it. Zoya, Farhan and Adhuna (Javed Akhtar’s daughter, son and daughter-in-law) adore Goa.
Kabir Bedi: I always say Goa is more than a beautiful place. It is a state of mind. When the wind ruffles your hair, in the embrace of the palms, your cares seem a continent away. That’s the essence of a great holiday spot. Every time I go to Goa, I ask myself why can’t I be there more often? It’s never enough, no matter how often I go.
Raveena Tandon: It is easy and convenient to go to Goa even if it’s just for a weekend. My children love Goa too. I love going to Goa.
Pooja Bedi: I go to Goa at least four times a year. I love the spirit of openness and the fact that I can frolic on the beach in a bikini with my kids without being harassed. I love the water sports, the restaurants and the international feel.
Sonu Sood: Goa is my favourite holiday spot. I go there every year. I think it’s the liveliest place in the world. Everyone is in party mode. You forget all your worries. Also, after having shot two films there, I can swear there can be no better place to shoot.
Chitrangda Singh: Goa is the Indian Europe. Great energy and feel!
Raima Sen: I love Goa. I go at least four times a year. I love the seafood, beaches and shacks. I love the chilled-out life there and the friendly vibe of the place. I can let my hair down comfortably there.
Minissha Lamba: Goa is amongst the most easily accessible holiday spots and one of those places where one can swim in the sea.
Arbaaz Khan: Goa is definitely my favourite holiday spot. It’s chilled out, there is not too much hustle-bustle. I love the place, people, food and eating places. Being close to Mumbai, it is an ideal vacation spot.
Rohit Roy: Goa has been my favourite Indian holiday destination from the time I was in college. My affair with Goa started as a fling and now it’s a full-fledged romance. Earlier, I would go with a bunch of friends. But now it has become a hotspot for family holidays. My wife Manasi and baby girl Kiara are as much beach persons as I am! We go to Goa once or twice a year. I absolutely adore the place’s chilled-out pace. It’s a great de-stresser after Mumbai which leaves me breathless. I love Goan food, prawn curry and rice being my favourites.
Malaika Arora: I don’t think there’s any better place to holiday than Goa.