It was an unusual request that came from Tajikistan's Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi, when he called on the visiting Vice-President Hamid Ansari here on Monday. Though India and Tajikistan have been close culturally and linguistically, with the relations between the two countries dating back to quite a few centuries, the Tajik Minister impressed upon the Vice-President to ask the Indian film industry to shoot at the scenic locales in this Central Asian country.

Pristine locales

He told the Vice-President that Tajikistan was home to about 13,000 glaciers from where a thousand pristine rivers originated.

“Our country is very beautiful and such pristine locations have not been seen before on Indian cinema. These locales can easily rival Switzerland,” he told Mr. Ansari. He was mindful of the fact that Switzerland remains a hot favourite for Indian film-makers.

There is a deep liking for Indian culture and films from Bollywood, which are routinely shown on TV channels here. Apart from tourist attractions in the well-spread Dushanbe, there is the Varzob gorge, located on the east bank of the Varzob river, just 25 km from the Tajik capital. It is a scenic gorge that comes alive in the spring and summer months with numerous resorts that flank many rivers and streams that pass through the region.

In the historic city of Hisor, 15 km to the west of Dushanbe, lies the Hisor fortress, which used to be the residence of the delegate of the Emir of Bukhara.

Stumbling blocks

Though the Tajik offer to Bollywood appears well in time as moviemakers from India scout for new locations, the only hitch is the absence of a direct flight from India to Dushanbe, which is otherwise just three hours away. Can it be Kush-aam-deed (welcome) to Indian film-makers in Tajikistan?