Bollywood films are colorful affairs that require considerable time, effort, and money to be devoted to constructing their sets, especially for dance scenes. This is because the success, or otherwise, of a Bollywood movie often depends solely on the quality of its soundtrack and dance scenes.
For the movie "Jab We Met", staring Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor, the task was to transform historic Naggar Castle, near Manali in northern India, into the site of a huge Tibetan carnival for the shooting of the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love).
This involved teams of artists working around the clock to handcraft and paint large sculptures and props. People from surrounding villages were organized to be extras, local shop keepers and balloon vendors hired to provide colorful displays of merchandise, and amusement rides were set up. The result was a vibrant singing and dancing extravaganza featuring traditional dancers, including Tibetan lion dancers, and costumes.
The stunning end result of the filming. Kareena Kapoor and dancers performing the dance routine for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love), from the Bollywood movie "Jab We Met". It actually took around 5 days of filming just to make one 6 minute dance scene!
Here's a look behind the scenes.
Historic Naggar Castle Near Manali
The medieval Naggar Castle, in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, has a long history. It was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu around 1460 A.D. out of huge stones and wood. Naggar Castle was converted into a rest house over 100 years agao, and in 1978 was handed over to the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation to run as The Castle Heritage Hotel.
The dance scene was filmed in the Castle's courtyard as well as in its backyard, which opens up to the valley.
Painting the Props
As part of the Tibetan carnival dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love), huge paintings were made of Tibetan goddesses inside the courtyard of Naggar Castle near Manali.
Artisans Making Plaster Sculptures
Artisans worked around the clock to create huge plaster pillars and other items for the carnival scene, in the backyard of Naggar Castle, for the filming of the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love).
Naggar Castle Backyard Set Construction
This view is of the backyard of Naggar Castle during the construction of the Tibetan carnival set for the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love). In the actual movie "Jab We Met", the backyard carnival scene appears at the start of the song. In reality, it was filmed last.
Construction of the Set in the Backyard
Incredibly, the whole set was constructed from scratch in around a week. This includes the huge god statue in the carnival scene. It can be seen partially made and covered in the background of the photo.
Courtyard Set Ready For Filming
It's morning on the first day of filming and incredibly the set in the Naggar Castle courtyard has transformed itself and is almost ready! Last minute discussions are taking place as the final touches are put on the set before filming of the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love) starts.
A carnival scene has been created, compete with brightly colored merchandise. To the right of the photo is the wooden runway, constructed to resemble the runway of a fashion show, where all the dancing happens.
Tradtitionally Dressed Local Women
Traditionally dressed local village people were hired to be background extras in the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love) at Naggar Castle, to give the carnival an authentic feeling. These women were delightful. So friendly!
Actors on the Set For Filming
Filming of the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love), in the movie "Jab We Met", is finally about to begin at Naggar Castle. The stars, Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur, have arrived on the set in the Castle's courtyard. (Kareena is wearing a denim jacket over a yellow kurti top, while Shahid is dressed in jeans and blue hooded sweater worn over a pink shirt).
In Between Takes of Filming
Life on a Bollywood film set involves lots of breaks and waiting around! Filming of the dance scene for the song Yeh Ishq Hai (This Is Love), in the movie "Jab We Met", is underway in the Naggar Castle courtyard. The dance routines are highly choreographed and shot in very small blocks from different angles, and not necessarily in sequence.
It’s a time consuming process that requires days of work, many costume changes, and re-arrangements of the set. It’s mesmerizing to watch the set burst into life with extremely enthusiastic and over the top routines, only to have the energy disappear just as quickly as soon as "cut" is called. The strength of one's grip on sanity can also be tested, as the same song is played over and over for days on end as each movement is repeatedly filmed.
The director, Imtiaz Ali (in the gray sweater), can been seen in discussions with one of the dancers. These dancers were all local Tibetan people and they danced so gracefully.