Two college friends set up a website that lists Indian film locations
Till about three years ago, just like a lot of us, they went to the movies and looking at exotic locations, wondered where on earth some of those films were shot. But the difference is, their curiosity outlasted the changes in the frames — it continued in their conversations. Between movies, some popcorn and investigation emerged the idea for a website.
Backed by expertise in site and database development, they registered the domain name, and www.wherewasitshot.com, a website that chronicles Indian movie locations, was born in 2009. Amar Ramesh, a freelance photographer working out of Chennai, and Filbert Pradeep, a software engineer in the U.S., friends from college and co-developers of the website, were united by a love for the backgrounds.
The website began with a collection of 30 to 40 locations, and today has over 500 locations listed — categorised according to language, location and people involved.
“One of our biggest motivations was the movies Mani Ratnam and Shankar made. For us, they are directors who go that extra mile for new locations, spiking our interest,” says Filbert. They have 1,000 more locations to be uploaded, and are looking for more.
There are YouTube videos of songs and relevant scenes from the movies listed, an note on how the location was spotted, movies shot there, history (or facts) of the place, and a Google map. All pictures on the website are attributed, and a few have been taken by the duo wherever possible.
“Before we launched the website, we looked up the Internet for sites of the same kind. We found a few that catalogued Hollywood movies, but none for Indian movies, making ours, perhaps, the first of its kind,” says Amar.
Tough chases keep Filbert hooked to the project. For instance, finding the Thorsen House featured in the song ‘Om Shanti' from “Vaaranam Aayiram”. “In the movie, Suriya mentions that Sameera Reddy has gone to Berkeley University, but her hostel (Thorsen House) was not part of the University campus. When I watched the song on YouTube, I happened to spot the name of a fraternity called Sigma Pie on the door of the house. I found the address of that fraternity from the University of Berkeley website, and I located the house using Google Maps,” he says triumphantly.
They say the Athirappally Falls in Thrissur and the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad seem to be popular locations, with over 50 instances of filming. Athirappally, they suspect, is a Mani Ratnam favourite!
Amar says the site gets around 30,000 visitors every month. “Right now it's Facebook, Twitter and good old word-of-mouth that's bringing in the people. Before we make efforts at marketing the site, we want to add a few more features to the site.”
About the upcoming features, Amar says there will be directions to reach the locations featured, spots of interest around them, and a section where locations they couldn't place will be featured, asking the visitors for any leads they might have. People can even suggest places they might have missed.
“We plan to include a list of potential movie locations, to reach directors looking for new places,” he adds. Plans are on to tie up with hotels, travel agents, and those who organise Bollywood and Kollywood tours for advertising on the site.