Bollywood in the Alps
The hills are alive with the sound of … Hindi!
More Bollywood movies are filmed in Switzerland than any other foreign country.
There’s nothing India’s massive movie industry likes more than a mountainous backdrop for its exaggerated stories of courtship and its fantastic song and dance sequences; its starlets dressed in fluttering chiffon saris, completely inappropriate for Alpine climates.
So when the traditional location of Kashmir became risky territory, Switzerland became its stunt-double.
The man credited with bringing Bollywood to the Alps was Yash Chopra, who died on 23 October.
Since his first ‘Swiss’ Bollywood blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Brave-hearted will take the Bride) was filmed, way back in 1995, the number of Indian tourists in Switzerland have significantly multiplied as thousands of loyal fans visit to follow in their film heroes’ footsteps.
Indians visiting Switzerland often tour the country to favourite film locations including Gstaad, Engelberg/Titlis, Geneva and the Jungfraujoch. May and June are the most popular months. It used to be groups travelling en masse but now there are more couples (honeymooners in particular), families and small groups visiting. Such is the success of these films that, in the Jungfrau region, India is now its fifth most important market, and they expect it to increase significantly in the next few years.
India is becoming a key target market for skiers too. Skiing and snowboarding is becoming increasingly popular in India, with an increasing numbers of middle class Indians starting to embrace the sport, in such ski areas as Auli in Uttarakh and and Gulmarg in Kashmir. Indians are also now coming to ski in Switzerland. In Zermatt, for instance, the number of Indian visitors has doubled in the past couple of years. They still like to come in May/June, to enjoy the verdant mountain landsapes, but they can also profit from Zermatt’s year-round skiing.
Now, despite the death of Chopra, the Indian film industry looks set to continue using the Confederation for its backdrops. Rumour has it that Bern and Interlaken are currently in talks with leading Bollywood film producers… so the Indian tourism market in Switzerland looks set for healthy expansion in forthcoming years.
In the meantime, here’s a clip of Yash Chopra’s ‘Swiss’ work at its finest: