Who is the god of Indian cinema

Filming location Rajasthan

Sweeping waves of plaster of paris, like sugar mousse, Art Deco candlesticks and stucco fountains in pastel colors, roll over the walls of the hall, which is probably the most beautiful cinema in India, the Rajmandir Cinema in Jaipur. There is space for 1200 spectators in front of the screen. Now in the afternoon there are only a few hundred lounging in the red upholstered armchairs, ushers light the way for stragglers, Dilip Kungwani loves this cinema. He's here for work - as a filmmaker he has to know what's going on.

"The Rajmandir Cinema is the place that attracts everyone who wants to see films on the big screen in a nice atmosphere. "

The spectators immerse themselves enthusiastically in the bath of emotions. In Agneepath, good and bad wrestle with each other for three hours. It's about vengeance and justice. And of course love. The nine-million-euro blockbuster was already a box-office hit on the opening weekend. Gods are celebrated on the screen, the power of the family invoked, money is raining. The scenes unfold against picturesque backgrounds. Finding such ideal locations is the job of Dilip Kungwani. The location scout is looking for you in Rajasthan. Because the northwest of India magically attracts film people:

"India's landmarks are elephants, camels, horses, men in turbans, monks, Indian streets. You can find everything in Rajasthan. Here is the real, the real India."

Outside the door, the real India is stuck in traffic. Which is nothing less than a sign of economic development. Kungwani in his white mid-range car on the way to his office barely honks. A small Ganesha figure sticks to the shelf. Ganesha, the god with the elephant head, conqueror of all obstacles, has a lot to do now.

The city center is a course made up of small and large construction sites at the edges of which card players sit, rickshaw drivers wait for customers and street vendors sell sun-bleached shirts. Jalebis, shortbread biscuits soaked in syrup, sizzle in black pans. Blown up dust filters the light, it acts like a soft focus for the scenery. Many facades have been whitewashed pink since British colonial times, which gave Jaipur the name "Pink City". Aromas of rose water, cow dung and sandalwood mix with the exhaust gases. The location scout looks at the development from his perspective:

"In the past, around twenty years ago, it was easier to make films on the street, there were fewer people and less traffic. Now there are a lot of people and a lot of traffic. When we are shooting, people crowd around us and stare at the camera . "

Because the population is growing rapidly and jobs are rare, personnel costs - apart from the salaries of the stars - are hardly significant. The annual average income in India is the equivalent of 1000 euros, in Rajasthan significantly less. Kungwani gets cable carriers and extras for two euros a day. For the ZDF he got extras in regimental strength. The location scout can also act as a production assistant on request.

His office is on the upper floor of a simple flat roof house. The man in the checked shirt sits down on an office chair that is still plastic-wrapped and starts up a heavy notebook. Photos of film locations appear on the monitor: desert landscapes, mud huts, a salt lake, tombs and ghats. He printed out the views of the fairytale castles. Rajasthan, the "land of kings" was ruled by generations of representative maharajas.

"Here, these are the palaces, we drove around for a month and chased palaces with the camera, so to speak. The selection will not be easy, as you can see. We just have too many magnificent buildings in Rajasthan."

A television series set in Mughal times, in the 17th century, is currently being negotiated. Amber Fort, a huge sandstone fortress only eleven kilometers from Jaipur, would be a suitable location. Kungwani makes a flying visit to the palace of Maharajah Man Singh. As soon as he stepped through the entrance gate he saw film images in front of him.

"The shot started at the great gate. The hero comes to challenge the king. There were 2,000 extras here on the set in this courtyard. The courtyard was full of extras. A great scene."

Amber was once actually a kingdom of its own. Until the Islamic Mughals took over. Today the fort is a museum. The arts and architecture in northwest India clearly show Persian influence. And convey a feudal claim to power. According to Kungwani, the setting goes well with the script of the TV series.

"We see large stone arches and domes over the arenas that used to be the guard. This huge building was once painted amber yellow, hence the name Amber Palace. Now it is more of a yellow, but when the sun shines the palace shines golden. Today it should be called "Gold Palace". Here you can use 50 elephants and 100 horses for a battle scene. You could say that it is the largest palace in Rajasthan. We use it for historical films, if no modern extensions are allowed to disturb. "

"Veer and Zaara" and "Ashoka" were filmed here, both starring India's number one movie star, Shah Rukh Khan. And "Kamasutra" directed by Mira Nair. Dilip Kungwani was there as a production assistant at the time, with this film his career began. He still admires Mira Nair to this day.

"She's fantastic. Mira Nair has her very own working style. When she's behind the camera, she's a completely different person. A director, so to speak, as he is in the book. She knows how to create characters, how to round off a scene and the best perspective from which to shoot. She is a perfectionist. "

The great confrontation between courtesan and queen, the climax of "Kamasutra", was staged by Mira Nair in the third courtyard of Amber Fort. Maya bathes lasciviously between the pillars, Tara watches her rival bitterly. Her mother-in-law tries to calm Tara down.

Queen's mother-in-law (soundtrack): "Submit my child. It's an old story. He had it on your wedding night. For me, it was Rassa who owned my husband. There are courtesans and there are wives. There are dozen like she. But you are the queen. "

Dilip Kungwani: "The Kamasutra is very controversial in India. Those who use the Kamasutra as a template run into problems. That's why they took the name" Taja and Mara ". The name was changed after the film was finished."

Indian producers are very concerned about the family suitability of a film. Freedom of movement costs viewers. Cash register does what whole families want to see more than once. And state censorship affects everything that could be politically or religiously sensitive. On the other hand, nobody has anything against crooks who are massacred, children can see that too.

The negotiations at Amber Fort were successful. The spacious palace can be rented for 4000 euros per day. Nothing stands in the way of the shooting. On the way back, Kungwani passes the Rajmandir Cinema again. A long line winds in front of the three ticket counters. The half-seven performance is about to begin. The little escape from everyday life costs sixty rupees, about one euro. Which is not over even after going to the cinema. Pieces of movie songs echo from shops and cars. The recipe of Indian cinema is ancient, God Brahma is said to have written the rules of dramatic art. According to them, by tasting different emotions, we learn the meaning of the universe. The nine tastes include love and anger, disgust, fear and humor. Bollywood uses them like a mixture of spices, a masala.

"Masala films are a mixture of love, sex, some Indian dance, dance numbers that are sexy, a few songs, something to laugh about - a mixture of all of that is a masala. People wanted different flavors. The masala films are still on but with new flavors. Horror, tragedy, comedy, some vulgar dialogues. These are masala films. "

The audience leaves the hall as soon as the hero has completed his revenge. Nobody waits until the credits roll. The warm night, which has quickly replaced day, is illuminated by street lamps that illuminate street scenes like film spots. In their cones of light, cows walk leisurely through the traffic as if they were invulnerable, a camel pulls his cart, in front of a temple an old couple is threading orange-colored marigolds into chains of sacrifices. Every passerby is a spectator and actor at the same time. Well, maybe a little dear viewer.