Why are filmmakers from Mumbai and even the south so scared about shooting in Goa? There was a time when anyone who wanted to shoot out of Mumbai had Goa as their first option , Goa with its beaches , the sea, the villages , the bars , the crosses , the churches , the feni and above all the lovable people – Ali Peter John
But in a recent personal survey , l realized that very few filmmakers and stars have been thinking about shooting in and around Goa.
And this kind of a sudden change reminds me of how Amitabh Bachchan considered Goa to be his lucky omen and how Goa was so very pleasant a place that he could take his kids for a holiday while he was shooting for one of his films on locations in Panjim , Margao and Ponda.
Amitabh’s first connect with Goa was when he started his career with “Saat Hindustani” in which he played one of the seven characters who played active roles during the struggle for the liberation of Goa.
The film was directed by K A ABBAS, the writer of Raj Kapoor’s films like “Awaara” , “Shri 420” , “Meraa Naam Joker” and “Bobby” which was based in Goa , had Goan characters and was even shot in places in the Goa.
Amitabh had signed the film for just five thousand rupees and had agreed to live in a dormitory in Panjim with the entire unit and having breakfast , lunch and dinner together.
It is almost 50 years since “Saat Hindustani ” , but Amitabh who is now known as “the star of the millennium ” still remembers those 40 days he lived and worked in Goa which he calls, “the land of peace , love and contentment ” .
That first film brought recognition and appreciation for Amitabh and whatever happened to him in the next 45 years was because of the impression he made in his first film shot entirely in Goa .
He still remembers the dormitory and the evenings he spent alone on the beaches of Goa and often refers to Goa as “the place that gave a new direction to my life ”
Amitabh was next seen in different places of Goa in the very early 80s and soon after his near fatal accident in Bangalore .
He was shooting for a very big film called “Pukaar” , which was a glorified and commercialized view on the liberation movement of Goa .
Never had Goa and its people come out in the open to see a glimpse of a star from Bombay like they did when Amitabh chose Goa as his first outdoor location after his returning like a miracle from the sure jaws of death .
There were other stars like Randhir Kapoor, Zeenat Aman and Tina Munim ( who is Mrs Tina Ambani now ) in and around Goa during those days and Amitabh and Randhir had got their families , which included the babies , Karishma and Kareena Kapoor and Shweta and Abhishek Bachchan. Amitabh and Randhir had also brought their wives , Jaya Bachchan and Babita to Goa and when their families went for long walks in Goa , there were no bouncers , policemen or any kind of security as they wanted to have a complete holiday , far away from all the noise , the dust and the strife and violence of Bombay .
Amitabh was in Goa for more than a fortnight and has very fond memories of the time he shot for “Pukaar” in Goa .
It was Amitabh who recommended Goa for the shooting of another big film called ” The Great Gambler ” .
Amitabh, Amjad Khan and the entire unit shot some of the most difficult scenes in Goa on land and on sea and had no complains of any kind from any force or source .
Amitabh and Amjad kept praising Goa and wished that Goa would never change and that would have more opportunities to shoot amidst “all the beauty, all the beautiful girls , all the beaches and the sea”
But , their wishes, ambitions and dreams came to a crashing end . Amitabh and Amjad who were the best of friends went for a drive one evening in Amjad’s Mercedes.
A sudden swing made the Mercedes crash and the steering of the car pierced through the strong chest of Amjad and he was rushed to the Goa Medical Hospital.
He was then rushed to his personally appreciated Nanavati Hospital where he had to lie in bed for more six months as the doctors found out that all his bones of the upper part of his body were broken and all his vital organs had been affected .
The night Amjad met with that accident in Goa ( incidentally, Amitabh escaped without a scratch, bruise or slight injury ) . Amitabh got drunk and cried and did not shoot for two full days.
Amjad came back from hospital, but the steroids he had to take while he was in hospital took its toll on his body and he had put on excessive weight and life and his flourishing career were never the same again, till he suffered a massive heart attack and died when he was only 46 .
There have not been many shootings happening in Goa like they used to during the 70s ,80s and 90s . Some filmmakers who had the courage to shoot in “god’s good land ” openly talked about the new “bhais” who were operating in exactly the same way as the bhais of Mumbai.
Money was the only key to shoot anywhere in Goa and filmmakers were apprehensive about shooting in the place where they once loved to shoot.
The changing faces of the governments also became a recurring hurdle for the film industry in Mumbai and in the south because of the fluctuating laws and rules which created endless problems for those who wanted to shoot in the state .
In the last 2 years , there have been several filmmakers who have cancelled or changed their plans to shoot in Goa and even some stars who have their bungalows , cottages and farms in Goa have not been visiting there own places for reasons of their own .
Has Goa , the heaven of dreams turned into a hell of nightmares ? It is a question the government and the various autherities will have to find answers to and the sooner they do , the better .
JAGAH AUR ZAMEEN WAHI RAHETE HAIN , LEKIN YEH INSAAN HAI JO APNE KARTOOTON SE UNNKO KYA SE KYA BANA DETE HAIN. ARRE NADAAN INSAANO KUCH TOH KADAR KARO HAMARE JAGAAO PAR , NAHI TOH KISKO PATA WOH KAB BADLA LENGE AUR PHIR INSAAN AISAA BEBAS HO JAAYEGAA KI USSKO RONAA BHI MUSHKIL HO JAAYEGAA.