The UK, a setting for great movies

Many Hollywood and Bollywood directors have chosen locations within the British territory to bring their stories to life. Travelling through these sites recalls scenes from your best-loved movies. 

Few people outside the UK knew who William Wallace, the Scottish national hero, was before they saw him in 'Braveheart'. Mel Gibson, who starred in and directed the film, chose to shoot in Glen Nevis and Glencoe; there is no better showcase for the green landscapes of Scotland. The blockbuster Bollywood film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was shot extensively here, and its breathtaking song and dance sequences will ever remain a huge part of Indian cinema. Both films smashed box-office records, and soon other film productions were making a beeline for the United Kingdom as well. 

India, the world’s leading film producer with more than 1,300 films every year, still regularly films in the UK, using the locales as more than just background. Why is this highlighted? In fact, England is one of Bollywood's top destinations, with several blockbuster films being shot here regularly. Thanks to Hollywood and the Indian film industry, the most iconic landscapes of the United Kingdom reach millions of viewers through the big screen:

1. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

Perhaps India's biggest film after Sholay, DDLJ is a cultural phenomenon which still dominates conversation 21 years after release. Raj and Simran, the film's leads, both stay in England with their families. First time director Aditya Chopra shot extensively in Southall, where Simran was shown to reside. Chopra went all out to showcase London up close and personal, and ever since then the city is one of India's most loved locations.

2. Namastey London (2007)

This love story starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif was filmed primarily in the British capital. Some of the most recognisable places featured in this film are the London Eye, London Bridge, and Oxford Street. The film had another distinction: it was the first Indian feature film with an entirely British production team.

‘Namastey London’ still frame.
‘Namastey London’ still frame. © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett

 

3. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001)

Karan Johar's magnum opus caught the lavish side of London beautifully. Postcard locations like the Wales Millennium Centre, St Paul's Cathedral, and the River Thames were peppered through the film. KJo, as he's popularly called, went on record to say he could have set the film anywhere in the world, but it had to be London because of how special the city is and what it means personally to him.

4. Mohabbatein (2000)

Aditya Chopra clearly loves England, since his second film was almost entirely shot in the picturesque country. The crew shot extensively in Queen's College, Oxford, and used the famous Longleat House, an English stately home in Wiltshire, as a location for the Gurukul School. 

5. Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012)

In director Yash Chopra's last film, London’s scenery is so prominent that it even serves as the background for the film's official poster. The lead characters enact a romantic scene, dancing and singing through the water jets of Somerset House, the Great Conservatory (Syon Park) and the famous Millennium Bridge. At St. Pancras station, Shah Rukh Khan poses playfully in front of the statue of Sir John Betjeman.

Sir John Betjeman statue at St. Pancras station.
Sir John Betjeman statue at St. Pancras station. © pbombaert / Shutterstock.com

 

6. Shaandaar (2015)

This is a film about a series of fairytale weddings. Besides presenting other locations in Europe, Shaandaar really takes pride in the England it showcases: Saltburn Pier, Leeds, and the Temple Newsam House (all in Yorkshire), serve as the hangouts and residences of the lead characters, gorgeously decorated by the film's art directors.

7. The World Is Not Enough (1999)

London is the base of operations for secret agent James Bond (Pierce Brosnan). One of the most famous scenes of this film is the frantic speedboat chase on the River Thames. Some companies offer speedboat rides in this same place, in order to revive the thrill of the experience.

Pierce Brosnan in ‘The World Is Not Enough’.
Pierce Brosnan in ‘The World Is Not Enough’.

 

8. Braveheart (1995)

Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, a Scottish Highlander who convinces his clan to fight against King Edward I. Scotland witnessed both the real battles and the simulations during filming. 'Braveheart’ won 5 Oscars (including Best Picture) and made famous the now legendary phrase, "They may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!"

9. Closer (2004)

In this film, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman show how complicated relationships can be. The National Portrait Gallery, London Aquarium, Theatre Royal and South Bank witness their comings and goings. As one of the main locations of the film, the small Postman's Park is as famous as Hyde Park.

10. Harry Potter

The British capital is very much present in the teen wizard saga. In the Warner Brothers Studio Tour you can see the film’s sets and costumes. King's Cross railway station is home for platform 9¾, which is the starting point of the Hogwarts Express. The platform does not actually exist, but there is a designated area for fans to be photographed 'passing through the wall.'

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour London. © Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

 

11. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The story takes place when the British Empire was in full splendour. Filmmakers used locations in Manchester, Liverpool, and London to recreate the look of late 19th-century London. This film features some other British settings, such as St Paul's Cathedral, Somerset House, Brompton Cemetery and The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

‘Sherlock Holmes’ still frame.
‘Sherlock Holmes’ still frame.

 

It's time to re-live your favourite Bollywood moments!