It’s official: UP is the most film friendly state in India

After a series of successful film shoots starring Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and a host of other Bollywood biggies, Uttar Pradesh won the Most Film Friendly State award at the prestigious 64th National Awards that were announced on Friday. Two other films Mukti Bhawan and Kadvi Hawa, which have a strong UP connect, have also got ‘special mention’ at this year’s award.

Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation), which is based on the ‘dharmshala’ where people come to die in Kashi in the hope of attaining salvation, has been entirely shot in Varanasi. Kadvi Hawa, on the other hand, is based on climatic change and is based on true incidents from rain-parched Bundelkhand. It has been shot in Chambal and Dholpur areas.

After getting a ‘special mention’ in the Most Film Friendly State category last year (2016), Uttar Pradesh bagged the award for smoothly facilitating a series of big and small projects. It all started with ex-chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s shoot-friendly policies, tax-free incentives and massive subsidies for films shot in UP. Big shoots that have happened in the state include Sultan, Jolly LLB 2, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Half Girlfriend and Babumoshai Bandookbaaz to name a few.

UP Film Development Corporation ex-vice-chairman Gaurav Dwivedi tells HT City, “It’s a moment of pride for all of us that Uttar Pradesh shone once again at the National Awards. It’s a team work. We look forward to achieving more such milestones in the new government under chief minister Yogi Adityanathji.”

UPFDC ex-member Vishal Kapoor said that we can take the good work forward by exploring new locations like Chitrakoot, which have not been explored in films.

Meanwhile, Mukti Bhawan director Subhashish Bhutiani is on cloud nine as the award comes on the day of his film’s release (Friday). “The movie has opened with some great reviews so I hope it translates into ticket sales as well,” he says. Film’s actor Adil Hussain has also bagged a Special Mention at the National Award.

“I have a very special connect from the state. My father (Sanjay Bhutiani), also the film’s producer, studied in Kanpur. I have studied in Mussorie, which was then in undivided Uttar Pradesh. I went to Varanasi to see the place when I chanced to visit Mukti Bhawan and I ended up making a film based on it. We have a lot of actors-crew from the state including talented Anil Rastogiji who plays the caretaker of the Bhawan,” tells Subhashish.

Last year, Neeraj Ghaywan won the best debut film for directing Masaan, which is also based on Varanasi’s famous cremation ghats. Actor Sanjai Mishra, who was also part of Masaan and plays the leading role in this year’s ‘special mention’ film Kadvi Hawa, was elated when HT broke the news to him.

“I am just coming out of Shirdi Sai Baba’s temple and got this news. It’s magical! We actors just do the role we are given but when our films get National Awards then it means we are working in the right direction. We shot Kadvi Hawa in Chambal in the scorching June heat last year as the film is based on water scarcity,” tells Mishra, who also hails from Varanasi.

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