India’s rich and grand palaces have served as inspirations for several filmmakers to use them as real-life locations for their epic stories. Many historic landmarks have made these Bollywood movies even more spectacular. With the advancement of technology and movie production values, many filmmakers choose to build sets from scratch or rely on post-production graphics to do the trick. But there’s nothing like a building seeped in history that lends a timeless feel to the narrative.
From star-crossed romances like Veer-Zaara, to grand period epics like Bajirao Mastani, here are some of the most iconic movies shot in real-life Indian palaces.
Veer-Zaara at Pataudi Palace, Pataudi
Saif Ali Khan’s ancestral house is as much of a star as any member of the Ali Khan household as it has been featured in multiple superhits, like Eat Pray Love (2010), Rang De Basanti (2006), and most notably in, Veer-Zaara (2004). The palace, also known as Ibrahim Kothi, was Preity Zinta’s sprawling home in Pakistan, where she realises her destiny is not what her parents want it to be. The 800 crore-worth property has 150 rooms, including several bedrooms, dressing rooms, billiard rooms, and several palatial drawing and dining rooms.
Khoobsurat at Laxmi Nivas Palace, Rajasthan
Sonam Kapoor’s Mili, in the 2014 film Khoobsurat, was a free-spirited physiotherapist who arrives at the Rathore family palace to treat the patriarch. The imposing and grand Laxmi Nivas Palace offered the perfect reflection of the contrast between her eccentric and effervescent personality and the stiff and tradition-favouring attitude of the Rathores. The stunning palace, built in 1904 by Sir Ganga Singh, is situated in Bikaner, Rajasthan, and is one of the finest examples of Indi-Saracenic architectural style.
Bajirao Mastani at Amer Fort, Rajasthan
A movie about historic kings and queens would need a setting that perfectly portrays the scale and magnitude of their sprawling empires and strength. This is why director Sanjay Leela Bhansali chose Rajashtan’s Amer Fort as one of the locations for his period epic Bajirao Mastani (2015). Situated 11 kms from Jaipur, it’s one of the principal tourist attractions of the region and was built by Raja Man Singh I in 1592. The red sandstone fort has four levels, each with its own courtyard.
Zubeida at Narain Niwas Palace, Rajasthan
Shyam Benegal’s 2001 film based on the life of the ill-fated actress Zubeida Begum was shot at the Narain Niwas Palace, in Jaipur, Rajasthan. In the movie, Karishma Kapoor’s Zubeida marries Maharaja Vijayendra Singh of Fatehpur and moves to his palace to live with him. Known as one of the most beautiful princely estates of the country, the Narain Niwas Palace was built in 1928 by General Amar Singh and is now a heritage hotel.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam at Vijay Vilas Palace, Gujarat
Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for his penchant for grandeur. This is why he chose the gorgeous Vijay Vilas Palace, in Kutch, Gujarat, to set his grand romantic tale Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) in. Built as the summertime palace of Jadeja Maharao of Kutch in 1929, the red sandstone palace is now a heritage hotel with its own private beach.
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