Hills await reel magic to shoot to fame - Starry heights

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By VIVEK CHHETRI in Darjeeling
  • Published 10.09.06

Darjeeling, Sept. 10: The Queen of the Hills could well emerge as the queen of hearts with the glistening Kanchenjunga making a celluloid comeback after more than five decades.

If Satyajit Ray’s Kanchenjunga (1962) helped the world discover the charm of Darjeeling, Raja Mukherjee’s directorial debut Bidhatar Khela is expected to renew the magic of the town, which is increasingly losing out to other hill stations.

This is the first time that a “big budget” Tollywood flick, with a generous sprinkling of Bollywood talents, will be shot exclusively in the Darjeeling hills, which might once again catapult the hill town back to the popularity it enjoyed earlier.

The cast comprises Jeet and Hrishita Bhatt (of Asoka fame) in the lead roles, along with Priyanshu Chatterjee from Tum Bin, Roopa Ganguly, Arjun Chakraborty, Locket Chatterjee, Dulal Lahiri and Bodhisattwa Majumdar.

“Lalit of the Jatin-Lalit fame will provide music to the film,” said Raja, whose is actor Rani Mukherjee’s elder brother. “We will shoot in Darjeeling for 48 days and more than 70 per cent of the movie will be filmed here.”

Darjeeling was not exactly on Raja’s mind when he started penning the story — a beautiful hill covered in the greens was all that he had thought of. His mother, Krishna Mukherjee, came up with the suggestion of filming it in the Darjeeling hills. “When we were young, we used to come here often. I knew it would be the prefect locale for the film,” she said.

Raja, who had never been to Darjeeling before, was overwhelmed by the place and was surprised that the beauty of the hills has not been properly exposed to the world. After two trips to the town, he has decided to capture every possible place here — from St Paul’s School to Mount Hermon, from Hotel Viceroy, Gangamaya Park, Rock Garden, Happy Valley to even Morgan’s House in Kalimpong — in his movie.

“The toys train will be an integral part of our film and we will shoot on it for four days,” Raja told The Telegraph. Five of the six songs in the movie will be shot here, with the heritage on wheels having an important role in one of them.

Apart from the initial hiccup — Dia Mirza backed out of the venture at the last moment — the going has been smooth for Raja with the DGHC and the district administration extending full support to what they consider is the biggest promotion of the place.

The romantic thriller, promoted under the JR Entertainment banner, is schedule to be released on Poila Baishak (the first day of the Bengali year).