Monumental Task

‘Befikre’ proves that Bollywood can’t get out from under the Eiffel Tower’s shadow

The trailer of the December 9 romance has been released at the iconic monument in Paris.

Hindi filmmakers love Paris (who doesn’t), especially the Eiffel Tower, the 1,063-foot tall monument to French architecture. The trailer of the Yash Raj Films romance Befikre has taken Eiffel adoration to new heights. Aditya Chopra’s romance, which stars Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor, has been unveiled at the tower in the presence of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The Eiffel Tower is among the world’s most visited monuments, and we can expect a spike in visits from India once the movie is released on December 9.

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‘Befikre’.

Befikre features other sites in Paris, including Pont Naf, Monmartre, Trocadero and the library of the City Hall, said a YRF press release. Paris is a “very prominent third character” in the movie, according to the studio. Befikre is certainly not the first YRF production to be set in Paris or feature its biggest tourist attraction. The 2007 movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom unleashed Abhishek Bachchan, Lara Dutta and several dancers on the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in the song Ticket to Hollywood.

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‘Ticket to Hollywood’ from ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’.

Hindi cinema paid tribute to the City of Love as early as 1967. Shakti Samanta’s An Evening in Paris can be credited with increasing Indian tourist arrivals in the French capital. Deepa (Sharmila Tagore) repairs to Paris to find love, which she encounters in the rambunctious form of Shyam (Shammi Kapoor). The unmatched tour of Paris begins with the opening credits, which features the Eiffel Tower in silhouette. The romance between the leads competes strongly with Samanta’s worship of the local sights.

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‘An Evening in Paris’ title track.

No tourist landmark deserves to exist if it cannot be used in a song. Keeping this philosophy in mind, Kareena Kapoor converts the base of the Eiffel Tower into an open-air dance party in Jeena Sirf Merre Liye (2002). The lyrics are deeply ironic, given the setting: Kapoor is asking gawkers to visit India at least once. The song beats the Incredible India campaign out of the park.

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‘Ek Baar Toh India’ from ‘Jeena Sirf Merre Liye’.

Hindi film lovers can be counted on to embarrass themselves at tourist traps. Full marks to our actors for gyrating and grinding in full view and giving locals and visitors a live demonstration of Indian romantic techniques. Exhibit A: Govinda and Karisma Kapoor in David Dhawan’s Hero No. 1 (1997).

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‘Mohabbat Ki Nahin Jati’ from Hero No 1’.

One film dared to use the Eiffel Tower differently: Vikas Bahl’s Queen (2014). Rani (Kangana Ranaut) has landed up in Paris on a pre-booked honeymoon after her wedding breaks off. The city disorients the salwar-and-jeans clad ingénue. She is both awestruck and terrified by the Eiffel Tower, which seems to be looming over her every move. Its monumentality reminds Rani of her own challenges, while Bahl’s use of the landmark indicates that the City of Love needn’t always be picture postcard.

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‘Badra Bahaar’ from ‘Queen’.
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