Bollywood's big UAE shoot: Vidya, Emraan in Dubai, Abu Dhabi

Bollywood actress Vidya Balan shoots for 'Humari Adhuri Kahaani' in Dubai's Miracle Garden. (Bindu Rai)

"Cut!" yells the director, with looks of relief etched clearly on everyone's faces while being handed a temporary respite from filming under the baking sun that still scorches at 2pm in Dubai.
 
While stars Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi are bundled off into the vanity vans for cooler climes, the Bollywood film crew huddle around the lunch buffet, attempting to find patches of shade in Dubai's Miracle Garden before the next shot gets canned for director Mohit Suri's 'Humari Adhuri Kahaani'.

The director in question is slumming it in the sun with the rest of us.
 
"We've just returned from a 20-day schedule from Cape Town," he reveals. "That was after we shot for 20 days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. What we are filming at Dubai's Miracle Garden is a scene we were supposed to shoot when we were here a month back.
 
"But you can't control some things in life, especially the weather. So we returned for this song sequence."

 
Suri, who is on a career high with his last two films, namely 'Aashiqui 2' and 'Ek Villain', both of which hit box office gold, is returning once again with a love story that's laced with traces of darkness.
 
Filming in UAE
 
Suri reveals nearly 30 per cent of his latest venture has been shot in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with a 20-day film schedule that brought the cast crew to the UAE in October.
 
Bollywood fans based here will recognise the Dubai Airport Terminal 3, parts of Sheikh Zayed Road, Hatta, the Miracle Garden, along with Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarb desert resort that also found screen space in this year's 'Bang Bang' starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif.

 
Talking about the UAE shoot, Suri says: "Essentially, India has treated the UAE as a place you go to for high-tech buildings for a modern landscape; I have tried to romanticise the UAE instead.
 
"Where I've filmed, these are places we've heard of but never seen them before in Indian cinema.
 
"Even this shoot at the Miracle Garden, look around you. There are 40,000 types of flowers here. There is a softer side to this country that goes beyond the highly advanced buildings, high bridges or supercars."

 
Suri reveals he has filmed 2.5 song sequences in the UAE, with the Miracle Garden pitching itself as a backdrop to another romantic song of yearn and heartbreak that takes our two leads from the roads of Dubai, down to Abu Dhabi, with a brief stopover in Hatta Village.
 
Happily ever after?

 
'Humari Adhuri Kahaani', which literally translates to 'Our Incomplete Story' is Suri's ode to the 'purity of love'.
 
He says: "And they lived happily ever after, but no one talks about the ever after. Something has more passion when you know there is going to be an end to it."


Suri continues: "I am a romantic at heart. I don't think I can get over anyone in life. Whether it is the women I have been involved with in the past. Even if you hate someone deeply, there is love still there. I think indifference is when love ends.
 
"If a love story endures so many years, it finally finds some level of legitimacy. Any love if pure, will finally find its journey. This is what 'Humari Adhuri Kahaani' personifies."
 
Mahesh Bhatt story

 
When quizzed whether the film is in fact based on Suri's uncle and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt's own life, or rather the tragic love story of the latter's parents, the young director doesn't deny it.

 
He reveals: "One part of the film is based on the life of Mahesh Bhatt's parents. His mother's portion is inspired into a role that is played by Rajkummar Rao in the film.
 
"Mr. Bhatt's step-mother, my step-grandmother, is the one who essentially completed the love story started by his mother and father by being the legitimate wife."
 
Ask him why he took such liberty in changing Bhatt's mother's story into that of a man, Suri continues: "I haven’t flipped the sexes. I have held on to an emotion. Emotions, love are not male or female.
 
"What we have here is a great love story with a message, there are no bad people in the end of life, just people in bad situations."
 
The director has dabbled with real life stories before that have transformed onto reel life, with Bhatt's on tragic love story with former actress Parveen Babi filmed into 'Woh Lamhe' by Suri in the past.
 
He adds: "'Woh Lamhe' was based on Parveen Babi's and Mr. Bhatt's life. 'Aashique 2' could be sourced from my own. There is nothing like an original piece of work; every film is inspired from the movies that he's watched, the books that he has read. Or the life that he has lived.
 
"The easiest thing to do is to write about true experience. There is no better reference than the truth. If you have a true story, no matter how badly directed it is, there is still truth in it."
 
'Vidya Balan was perfect'
 
According to Suri, the film spans a lifetime of a person, dealing with a woman's journey from birth, marriage, falling in love and ultimately, her death.
 
Balan plays a florist in the film, with a part of her life bringing her character to these shores.
 
Suri says: "Vidya was the right person for the film. In fact she was on board before anyone else. I met her during at the trial of 'Aashique 2' when she had come with her husband [Siddharth Roy Kapur] to support her brother-in-law Aditya.
 
"After the rushes, she came up to me and said I want to do a film with you because she liked what I had done. I didn’t have anything for her at the time while I was making 'Ek Villain'.
 
"If you look at it, Mahesh Bhatt, Vidya and me are the forerunners of the film. The germ started with us."
 
Bhatt has also written the script of the film, with Suri saying the prolific filmmaker came up with the idea himself, adding: "I didn’t think anyone else was good at writing this. This is his home turf. This is the man who wrote 'Zakham', 'Arth' and 'Saraansh'."
 
Narrating an anecdote from the production stage, Suri says: "Interestingly, Mr. Bhatt wrote the script in Hindi himself. Normally, we write a script in English and we have it translated.
 
"But Mr. Bhatt said, when you write in Hindi, the heart remains traditional. It is not adapted from a Hollywood sensibility. This film requires it to be a traditional mind-set."
 
Before Suri can add anything further, the assistant director comes running with news that the stars are ready for round two.
 
As the director rushes back to the shoot before the 'light is lost', he adds in parting: "This is a love story that everyone will connect with. It's something your grandmother may have narrated to you as a child. Sometimes the best love stories are those that remain incomplete."

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