Over 20 years ago, a young filmmaker set out to make his very first film with India’s leading superstar reel pair- Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. Little did anyone know that this filmmaker was going to set trends that would change the ways of Hindi cinema. Apart from being the writer and the director, this was one young director who paid serious attention to the look of his characters and the look of the surroundings of his characters. And this very attention to detail became his trademark- good-looking characters & laving sets.
If you’re new to the world of Hindi cinema, let me tell you this debutante director was none other than Karan Johar.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH) undoubtedly was a stylish and good-looking film from every aspect. Something that Johar was extremely conscious about throughout the process, as revealed in interviews. With actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukerji and Salman Khan who happen to be not just pleasant but also expressive actors, the look came easy. However, when I dissected how Johar got the setting of his film in place, I was blown by the geographic confusion.
In other words, this is exactly how films in Indian cinema and globally get shot. Apart from the massive sets that are erected in studios, the outdoor locations aren’t usually the same as mentioned in the film. KKHH filming locations are exemplary proof of the same.
(Pardon me if my love for all things Bollywood comes across over-enthusiastically in the filming location posts :P)
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Anjali Khanna is an eight-year-old girl living in Mumbai, India with her single, Rahul Khanna and her grandmother. Anjali’s mom, Tina died right after she was born due to complications in pregnancy. But she has left her daughter 8 letters that Anjali’s grand mom hands her on each of her birthdays. On her eighth birthday, Anjali gets her mother’s last letter, which comes with a special task. The letter reveals the story of Tina-Rahul and Anjali Sharma and goes back to their college days.
Rahul Khanna and Anjali Sharma are best friends who study together and bond over their love for basketball. Anjali is unlike other girls, a tomboy with short hair, sporty clothes (unlike dressy girls) and interest in sports over fashion. Rahul and Anjali’s friendship is renowned in college. Tina Malhotra, the college principal’s daughter joins their class in their final year for graduation. Rahul and Tina fall in love, while Anjali realizes her feelings for Rahul are more than just friendship. But she discovers Rahul’s feelings for Tina and leaves town heartbroken, to never keep in touch.
Pyaar Dosti Hai!
Tina realizes that Anjali was in love with Rahul and leaves her own daughter- Anjali the mammoth task of reuniting her father with his best friend who also loved him.
Anjali takes on the tasks and does her homework of finding Anjali Sharma. She heads over to a summer camp in Shimla which is being hosted by Anjali who is now all ladylike. Rahul traces his daughter and mother to the summer camp and Shimla only to be surprised to reunite with his long-lost best friend- Anjali. Love rekindles between the two, but Anjali is already engaged to Aman who loves her dearly. Over a series of romantic scenes, rain dance-air music, and shooting stars, it for love to triumph.
What sounds like a simple story based in the cities of Mumbai and Shimla was actually shot across more locations that are not even mentioned in the film.
Here’s celebrating #20YearsOfKKHH by dissecting the KKHH filming locations!
KKHH Filming Locations
Rahul meets his daughter, Anjali: Port Lucia Waterfront, Mauritius
The film begins with the single dad, Rahul Khanna meeting his 8-year-old daughter Anjali. In an earlier scene, it was established that Rahul and his family are living in Mumbai. However, the location where Rahul is meeting his daughter is nothing like Mumbai because it was shot at the Port Lucia Waterfront in Mauritius.
In fact, most of the outdoor scenes posed as Mumbai were actually shot in Mauritius.
St. Xavier’s College: Mumbai Studios/ University of Mauritius
Rahul, Anjali, and Tina play college students in a part of the narrative. Hence, a substantial part of the film’s story was set on the college campus. In one of the scenes, before the song ‘Koi Mil Gaya’, a subtle reference is made to the name of the college being St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
In another quick shot, it is confirmed by a further glimpse at a list that showcases names of other Mumbai colleges.
The college campus scenes though have not been shot at the St. Xavier’s College in the city. The interiors of the college were created by erecting sets in the Mumbai Studios. References for the same were taken from Archie comics and Beverly Hills.
The exteriors of the college were shot at the University of Mauritius.
Yeh Ladka Hai Deewana (Song): Mauritius
Mauritius is a key KKHH filming location with substantial parts of the film being shot there. The first song in the film, ‘Yeh Ladka Hai Deewana’ shot with SRK-Kajol showcasing the friendship between the two best friends was shot in Mauritius as well. Parts of this song were also shot at the University of Mauritius.
A famous incident from the film of the song includes Kajol losing balance and falling off her bike in one of the shots only to temporarily lose her memory.
Love Triangle- Bench Scene: Scotland
In a recent interview, director Karan Johar dissects what can be called one of the most popular and impactful scenes in the film highlighting the love triangle between the 3 lead characters. Now despite attempting to showcase Mauritius as an Indian college, Johar felt it was not good enough for this particular scene. So, he added the University of Scotland to the KKHH filming locations. The famous scene where everyone mocks Anjali who comes dressed as a girl was shot there. This is followed by the ‘Signature Karan Johar Bench Scene*’ in the premise of the university.
(*A plot-changing scene with the characters sitting/in the backdrop of a bench is a recurring theme in Johar’s following films)
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Title Track): Scotland
The title track of the film was one of the most popular tracks around the release of the film, 20 years ago. The most gorgeous set of KKHH filming locations were reserved for the film’s title track. In this love triangle song, you can see the three lead characters dancing across the gorgeous locales of Scotland. For back then you could say, that the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai title song video was one of the most glorious tourism ads for Scotland.
The gorgeous filming locations include-
Eilean Donan Castle
Also Read: Filming Locations of top Bollywood Songs
Train station scene- Anjali going away
The film that starts off with a narrative that looks like it was set in Mumbai. But it takes an abrupt geographically twist at the turning point in the film. Unable to cope with heartbreak, Anjali is leaving to go back forever to her parents’ home. The iconic scene at the railway station where Rahul tries to stop her and watches the train go. Anjali throws her dupatta in the air from the train door at Tina. The train station has a Faridabad signage in the backdrop. Johar also mentions that the story was supposed to be set in Faridabad as per a train station signage. However, the film was never shot in Faridabad and the placing of the particular signage remains a mystery.
Summer camp in Shimla: Wenlock Downs, Ooty
Another interesting twist in the tale and in the KKHH filming locations is the filming of Anjali’s summer camp. While the dialogues underline repeatedly that the camp was based in Shimla it was originally shot in Ooty.
Many also mention that the KKHH filming locations include the Khajjiar Lake in Himachal. This chunk of the film was shot at the Wenlock Downs in Ooty, Tamil Nadu.
Dance In The Rain: Ooty
The memorable rain dance scene in the film which showcases a romantic moment between Rahul and Anjali was also shot at the Wenlock Downs in Ooty.
Overview: KKHH Filming Locations
Taking an overview, the KKHH filming locations primarily constitute of Mauritius, Scotland, India- Ooty, and Mumbai.The scenes filmed in Mumbai were shot on sets created
Film City Studio, Goregaon
RK Studios, Chembur
Please Note: As mentioned earlier, there is a massive disparity between the original KKHH filming locations and the locations mentioned in the film’s dialogues. However, these dialogue references are subtle without underlining any particular location specifically so as to play a role in the film’s narrative.
Which of these is your favorite KKHH filming location? Let me know if you know any more locations where the film was shot in the comments below.
Also, tell me if you enjoyed reading this article and want me to decode the shooting locations of any film in particular.
Till then, happy traveling!