With its scenic promenade, picturesque locations, an old world French ambience, Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, Puducherry offers the lay visitor a curious combination of hedonistic as well as spiritual opportunities. One could go on a spirited binge and simply freak out. Otherwise, one could soak in its spiritual glow and get mentally uplifted.
True to the innate character of Puducherry, most of the films shot in the town also reflect a somewhat similar bipolar tendency. Amorous endeavors get captured on celluloid. Themes with a spiritual strain also find Puducherry attractive. Occasionally, one would find the town getting mentioned in a block buster!
Here is a quick recap of the Hindi and English movies which have had a Puducherry connection.
Jism (2003, Amit Saxena) was an erotic thriller. Obsession with the pleasures of the flesh and greed for wealth eventually drive the main protagonists towards a tragic end.
Black (2005, Sanjay Leela Bhansali) was based on the life and struggles of Helen Keller. Ayesha Kapur from Auroville played the childhood role of the main protagonist and went on to win several awards and critical acclaim for her performance.
3 Idiots (2009, Rajkumar Hirani) argued in favor of innovative thinking and showed us the perils of learning by rote. It also exhorted us to follow our hearts when choosing a vocation. No part of the movie was shot in Puducherry. However, one of the main characters, Chatur Ramalingam, declares having gone to school at Puducherry.
Aashayein (2010, Nagesh Kukunoor) was about a compulsive gambler learning to live to the hilt within the limited life time available to him. It captured life within a rehabilitation center for those with an incurable disease in a poignant manner.
7 Khoon Maaf (2011, Vishal Bhardwaj) belonged to the black comedy genre. It also had a couple of steamy scenes. Having killed six of her husbands, the heroine finds redemption, solace and true love in Jesus – at Puducherry.
Talaash (2012, Reema Kagti) touched upon various ills plaguing our society. A mystery thriller, it also described the state of happiness one reaches upon overcoming one´s guilt.
Life of Pi (2012, Ang Lee) put Puducherry on the international map. The hero was shown to be a Hindu who also goes on to embrace Christianity and Islam. The film spoke of the need to remain connected with oneｴs inner self so as to be a winner in the vast ocean of life. Truth, perception and belief were brought into focus, thereby putting the theme on to a spiritual plane.
There are several Tamil movies which have also been shot at Puducherry. To movie makers, the town offers a smart choice as a location. The place is small. It is not very pricey. With a friendly government, it is easier to get all the permissions to shoot. Parks, heritage churches, water bodies and French cuisine simply add value to the quaint place.
A unique feature of the town is its rich architectural heritage. Organizations like INTACH do try to salvage a part of the same. Sadly, much more needs to be done.
Puducherry is also known as “The French Riviera of the East”. For someone who lives in the real place, it is delightful to connect with the reel place as well.
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