Jaane Jaan on Netflix and Kaala on Hotstar bring big Bollywood back to North Bengal after a decade

Sweta Gupta
Sweta GuptaSep 07, 2023 | 11:00

Jaane Jaan on Netflix and Kaala on Hotstar bring big Bollywood back to North Bengal after a decade

After a nearly two-decade hiatus, North Bengal's allure beckons filmmakers once more. (Photo Credits: Getty Images/Netflix)

As Jaane Jaan starring Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Bejoy Nambiar's Kaala gear up for release, the alluring magic of North Bengal's picturesque locales is back on the big screen... after a decade-long hiatus.

Jaane Jaan, for example, is set in the charming town of Kalimpong. The Sujoy Ghosh-directed this film is an official adaptation of Keigo Higashino's bestselling novel, Devotion of Suspect X.

From towering mountains that kiss the sky to the warm-hearted locals, Kalimpong presents nothing short of a paradise.


Also in the offing is Disney+ Hotstar's Kaala, directed by Bejoy Nambiar. Parts of the series were shot in and around Siliguri.

During the filming of this series, the iconic Sevoke Coronation Bridge was in the news. This bridge links the picturesque districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, and the shoot of Kaala sent the residents of the area into a brief moment of panic when a thunderous explosion ripped through the bridge in March 2022. 

While Kaala got into a bit of a tussle with the locals over adequate permissions for filming on the pre-Independence Coronation Bridge, it was later resolved with the line producer being arrested. Videos of the 'blast' on the bridge went viral on social media back then.

The return of big Bollywood to North Bengal comes after a decade-long gap. The last movie shot in the area was Anurag Basu's Barfi in 2012.

Bollywood discovers North Bengal

From the evergreen Mere Sapno Ki Rani (Aradhana, 1969) to the foot-tapping Main Chali Main Chali (Professor, 1962), and the melodious Kasto Maza Hai (Parineeta, 2005), the region has been a wellspring of inspiration for filmmakers going as far back as the groovy 1960s. 


It's a place where classics like Aradhana, suspenseful dramas like Humraaz, romantic tales like Mausam, mysterious rendezvous like China Town, and enchanting nights like Barsaat Ki Ek Raat have all found their cinematic magic.

Darjeeling with Kanchenjunga massif. (Photo: Getty Images)

Take a look at some of the timeless classics filmed in North Bengal:

1. Araadhna (1969)

  • The earliest memory of the hills and tea gardens of Darjeeling in Bollywood harks back to the iconic song Mere Sapno Ki Rani from the film Aradhana
  • It was a cinematic moment where Rajesh Khanna serenaded Sharmila Tagore as they traversed the scenic landscapes aboard the Darjeeling toy train. 
  • This particular movie transformed the Darjeeling toy train into an enduring symbol of love and romance. 
  • The unforgettable Mere Sapno Ki Rani sequence was captured in the mesmerising locales of the Giddapahar region in Kurseong and Darjeeling. 

Who can forget the classic scene where Rajesh Khanna pursued the ever-graceful Sharmila Tagore in a car, while she, in turn, embarked on the Darjeeling toy train!

It's safe to say that very few can resist humming this timeless tune while on that same picturesque journey. 

2. Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1982) 

Can anyone, even the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, resist the magnetic allure of Darjeeling? Not once, but twice, this iconic actor graced the picturesque Darjeeling with his presence. 

  • Firstly, in Do Anjane, where he shared the screen with the enigmatic Rekha, and then in the superhit Barsat Ki Ek Raat, alongside the graceful Rakhee. Who can forget the timeless melody Apne Pyar Ke from the latter? 
  • Several scenes featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee Gulzar were masterfully shot within the charming villages of Darjeeling. 
  • Remarkably, this film also had a Bengali version, titled Anusondhan.

It was an absolute delight for audiences to witness the magic of this cinematic gem unfold against the backdrop of Darjeeling's captivating hills.  

3. Parineeta (2005)

Years after Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna's song on the Darjeeling toy train, her son Saif Ali Khan recreated that memorable journey aboard the UNESCO world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railways train for the Pradeep Sarkar-directed film Parineeta, in 2005.

  • What makes Kasto Mazza truly special is the presence of a pair of rosy-cheeked local children gazing out of the train's panoramic windows, adding their voices to the chorus as Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) daydreams about his beloved Lalita (Vidya Balan).

With Vidya Balan portraying the quintessential Bengali bride, the song impeccably captured the essence of yearning.

4. Main Hoon Na (2004)

  • Picture the entrance of Major Ram Sharma, portrayed by the charismatic Shah Rukh Khan, as he walks out of the train, emerging mysteriously from a swirling cloud of steam at the railway station in Darjeeling. 
  • His mission? To rescue Sanjana, played by Amrita Rao, from the clutches of ruthless terrorists. 
  • Now, here's the behind-the-scenes magic: a substantial portion of the movie's filming unfolded within the charming confines of St Paul's School in Darjeeling, ingeniously transformed into the on-screen campus.

 It's at this very location that the iconic song Chale Jaise Hawaayein came to life, adding an extra layer of fun to this cinematic masterpiece.

5. Barfi (2012)

  • Filmed extensively amidst the landscapes of Darjeeling, Barfi weaves a heartwarming narrative around a hearing-impaired and mute protagonist, portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor, and his intricate relationships with two women, Shruti (Ileana D'Cruz) and Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra).
  • The movie's captivating storyline unfolds against the backdrop of various notable locations, including Sukna, Tindharia, Chowrasta, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Station at Ghoom, Windamere Hotel, Keventer's, and Planters Club.

The film's visual allure is further enhanced by the presence of familiar sights such as the iconic Capital Clock Tower, lush tea gardens, vibrant prayer flags, and charming wooden houses.

The 1970s also witnessed several other Bollywood productions choosing Darjeeling as their backdrop, including films like Joshila, Sagina, Do Anjane, Anurodh, and Lahu Ke Do Rang.

Big Bollywood returning to North Bengal means more visibility for this enchanting slice of India.

Last updated: September 07, 2023 | 11:00
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