The sprawling desert, with its red and yellow dunes surrounded by myriad shaped mountains nestled underneath a clear blue sky with plump clouds, was the chosen spot by filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar to shoot a song sequence with Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff for the much-awaited Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. The filmmaker says “It’s a visually stunning place, raw yet majestic. It is untapped and just so enchanting”.
In open-air jeeps racing across the sandy expanse, with gusts of sharp cold winds hitting our bare faces, we made our way to the set of the film nestled atop one of Wadi Rum’s sandstone peaks.
Huddled and swathed in our woollens one could not but applaud the actors (Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, Alaya F and Manushi Chiller) who along with background dancers effortlessly swayed to the beats of the music, and steps choreographed by Bosco Martin,
Tiger Shroff sporting a vest which perfectly showed off his chiselled abs, laughed “Fit hone ka faida uthaya jaa raha hai”. But jokes apart both Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff perhaps of the most disciplined and fittest actors answered in unison, that though used to shooting in varied temperatures, the expanse and beauty of the location made it worth the while.
Inviting 50-odd journalists from across India to be part of the film’s shoot as well as explore Jordan, Producer Jackky Bhangani reminds us it is 25 years since the first Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda) produced by his father Vashu Bhagnani and Pooja Entertainment released. “We wanted to create a mood where those who write on cinema can experience the film set for what it is. Over the years one felt the relationship had become a bit clinical, we all meet during promotions, talk and discuss the film and it is all forgotten. We wanted everyone to experience what went behind the making of a film, as well as explore this amazing place (Jordan). By bringing everyone here we are also creating memories,” says Jackyy Bhagnani.
The Peter O Toole and Omar Sheriff Academy award-winning film Lawrence of Arabia (1962) was one of the first films to be shot in Wadi Rum. Its dramatic landscape and its similarity to the surface of Mars made it a huge draw for filming science fiction as well as space-related films. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, Dune, and The Martian were some of the films shot here.
After the set visit, we headed to Aqaba, where we were given a sneak peek into the making of the film at the wrap-up party. High octane action spread across continents, the makers have left no stone unturned in giving us a larger-than-life extravaganza.
The coastal city of Aqaba is arrestingly beautiful, its coastline is divided into four countries Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. One gets a confluence of the many cultures in its food, from succulent Mansaf (a lamb dish) to the mouth-watering Egyptian dessert Umm Ali, it is a gastronome delight.
Though you can lounge along the beaches of the Red Sea at Aqaba, one should not miss the opportunity to take the Dead Sea tour and soak in the natural yet simple beauty of Jordan.
The other popular filming location is the ancient city of Petra. Of course, the one film that comes to mind is Indiana Jones amongst the many shot there. We get a chance to explore the “Rose City”, as you take in its majestic beauty, you cannot help but hear someone excitedly ask “Kareena Kapoor? No, I was not mistaken for the actor, rather had excited locals professing their love for Bollywood, and Kareena Kapoor Khan being a popular screen icon amongst them. “I wish her a lovely life and want her to make a film in Petra,” says the shopkeeper in Petra, and even gave me a free souvenir to take home.
With raw and human resources easily available and the consistent working of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan to make the country a viable filming and tourist destination. Apart from a single window clearance for film shoots, it is also a visa on arrival for Indians.
Bade Miya Chote Miyan, is all set to hit screens this Eid.