Siddharth Anand
Director of War, Pathaan, Fighter

In Italy, till date, I think people go back to see that song, Khuda Jaane in Bachna Ae Haseeno. Various places—Puglia or Venice, that beach with the white rocks. I think it’s hugely benefited (tourism). The idea was to showcase a location that’s not been exploited or overexploited on screen. So Greece… a couple of songs were shot there—like in Chalte Chalte—and that’s a very, very strong memory. But I think the location is fascinating. I thought we could recreate something over there. We tried to do so in two different places. Like opening the song in a cafe over the water… It was very real in that sense. We tried to capture the utmost beauty of that place. Mykonos and Santorini are places where you just put the camera anywhere; they’re gorgeous.

Prague is used for a short period in the film Bang Bang. I wanted to use the main bridge—the Charles Bridge. So there, I shot some action. For War, we created Marrakesh in a place called Matera—it’s a historical town in Italy. It was not even recreated. We’ve done nothing. We’ve done no set design. It’s all very real… So I actually look at a lot of pictures of locations – from Instagram, magazines—travel magazines—and then earmarked and made note of places that are stunning. And then I planned my shoot accordingly. So that’s my process. I saw this picture in Matera, which just blew my mind, and it stayed with me. It’s there in the opening shot of the sequence—the snow cave… So that’s the kind of photograph I saw. And I went and placed the camera exactly there and shot that. The location lends itself to the action and I don’t design the action beforehand. First, I go to the location, let the location speak to me, and then see what I can take from this. Matera had a lot of great rooftops and small alleys, I could do a great foot chase. So then I designed it based on that. In Portugal the architecture is wonderful. It’s very specific to Portugal… I knew I was going on a bike chase. That was there before I saw the location. That bike chase could’ve been anywhere in the world. I saw pictures of Portugal. I saw pictures of that bridge in Porto. I saw the mountains in the Serra da Estrela. That’s when I realised that this entire sequence could be shot in Portugal. And we set the sequence in Portugal. So in the script, it was location X. It could’ve been anywhere. In the sequence where the scientist goes for a conference, he could’ve gone to South Africa for the conference; he could’ve gone to Portugal, Italy, or Australia. The location decided the actual place.

The chase on ice in War was shot beyond a town called Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is a very beautiful town. It’s in Finland. It’s half an hour beyond Rovaniemi, crossing the Arctic Circle. So you’ve got a sign saying, ‘You’re now entering the Arctic Circle.’ So we went into the Arctic Circle and shot thecar chase. It was a very difficult shoot. We had to actually work on a frozen lake. The lake had to be ploughed every day and made hard so the ice wouldn’t crack when we drove cars on it. The team over there worked relentlessly. They were super professional, in spite of not being such a heavy film industry or country.

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