UP pitches Taj as top film shooting location

Panaji, Nov 21 (IANS): The Taj Mahal may have been dropped from the Uttar Pradesh government's tourism paraphernalia, but the Agra monument is one of the state's top USPs, when it comes to pitching for a film shooting destination to filmmakers at the IFFI.

According to Awanish Awasthi, Chairperson of 'Film Bandhu', the state's film promotion body, both Mughal Emperor Shahjahan's monument of love, as well as, the precincts of Ayodhya -- are two of the top potential backdrops for film shoots in the state.

"Our Pradesh (state) has everything. We have the Taj Mahal, we have the history of Lucknow, plus we have the Ganga, Benaras, Ayodhya and we have the 'Kumbh' coming up.

"We would want everyone to come to our region. We have the Buddhist circuit, we have the Kumbh circuit, the Ram circuit," Awasthi said on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of India which got underway on Monday in Goa.

The website of Film Bandhu also uses an image of the Taj Mahal as one of the backdrops for the portal.

Awasthi's comments come weeks after the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department dropped the reference to the spectacular Taj Mahal from tourism paraphernalia.

Subsequently, a debate also sparked over the origin of the Taj Mahal, with several Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu right wing leaders claiming the monument was originally a Hindu temple called 'Tejo Mahalaya', dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Film Bandhu is one of the associate sponsors of IFFI and is using the festival to make a pitch to filmmakers who have arrived at IFFI to shoot in Uttar Pradesh.

"We have everything like I told you. Everyone should come to our Pradesh, make films. And we would like to say that in Benaras and Lucknow, we want to build a film city and a film institute, we are looking for partners," Awasthi added.

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