New Delhi: Forget the Swiss Alps or the Himalayas, it`s the Indian capital that has become Bollywood`s favourite shooting destination. Whether it`s a farmhouse in Chhatarpur, Lutyens` Delhi or good old Chandni Chowk, the city which has been ruined and rebuilt time and again through history is being romanced by the dream merchants.
Filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Mahesh Bhatt have either been shooting for their projects or scouting for locations here, as the city offers myriad choices at a cheaper cost than Mumbai and good infrastructure too.
Bhatt`s next movie `Informer` is based on illegal arms trading in Delhi; so no wonder he was in the capital to hunt for locations for the movie.
`Jab We Met` director Imtiaz also flew down with his cast and crew for Ranbir Kapoor-starrer `Rockstar`, while actor Saif Ali Khan too chose the city backdrop to shoot the climax of his next, action-packed `Agent Vinod`.
In fact, Mehra, who captured the essence of Delhi in his films `Rang De Basanti` and `Delhi 6`, has planned to return to the city for his next `Bhaag Milkha Bhaag`, a biopic of iconic Indian athlete Milkha Singh.
Delhi is a city of grand old monuments, beautiful greenery, 16 million people, a most modern Metro rail and also the seat of power - all of which blend to give it a unique character.
Every filmmaker has individual reasons to shoot in Delhi, but it turns out that shooting in Delhi is easier than in entertainment capital Mumbai, according to line producer Ravinder Pal Singh.
"Mumbai is now over-exposed. As a result, a lot of filmmakers are looking for something different, so they are scouting for newer locations such as Delhi," Singh of Sahib Productions told reporters.
"Around seven to eight years back there were only one or two films that were shot in Delhi, but ever since the support system has improved, we are now getting the charge of 20 to 25 films," he said.
"Shooting in Delhi is cheaper than Mumbai. While renting a bungalow in Mumbai would not cost less than Rs.200,000 to Rs.250,000, in Delhi they are available at Rs.15,000-20,000," added Singh, who has helped in arranging shoots for films like `Khosla Ka Ghosla`, `Hum Tum` and `Chala Mussaddi Office Office`.
Saif, who features with his real life girlfriend Kareena Kapoor in the movie, has shot in Delhi before for `Love Aaj Kal`. However, `Agent Vinod` captures its more political side.
"It is going to be completely different from `Love Aaj Kal`. There is a lot of character in Delhi that we would like to capture. The Aurangzeb Road kind of bungalow, and `chiks` tied to the colonial arches of these houses. There is also the old Delhi, and the slightly more crowded, a very Kashmere Gate kind of area. We will capture Connaught Place and the famous Nirula`s," Saif had told reporters.
" `Love..." captured an atmosphere of being romantic, fun loving, and showcased the city`s gol-gappas and metro rides. But for `Agent Vinod`, we want to capture the power of the central government, the grandeur, beauty of the visuals, things like Rashtrapati Bhavan," he added.
While Imtiaz was in town with Ranbir for `Rockstar` last year, they shot some college scenes at St. Stephen`s and Hindu colleges. They also captured places like Kotla Mubarakpur, Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, Greater Kailash and Connaught Place.
For his directorial debut, `Sahi Dhande Galat Bande`, actor-turned-director Parvin Dabas came back to the city he grew up in.
"I`ve grown up in Delhi and as a filmmaker it always feels great to go back to one`s roots because you understand that place and you know that place inside out," said Parvin, adding his experience was quite hassle-free.
"I didn`t face any difficulty in shooting in Delhi. You just need to seek permission from the police station of the area where you plan to shoot. The amount of cooperation that I received here was just terrific - whether it was at the Habitat Centre or Tihar Jail or Najafgarh," he added.
According to Singh, who helped facilitate the shoot of Julia Roberts-starrer "Eat, Pray & Love", the support services have improved.
"Even the shooting equipment is easily available at affordable rates. A lot of companies that provide production services in Mumbai have now also opened their offices in Delhi," Singh added.
In the past, `Yeh Saali Zindagi`, `Band Baaja Baraat`, `3 Idiots`, `Aisha`, `Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!` and `No One Killed Jessica` have also been shot here.