In a tribute to Sridevi, Switzerland tourism industry is planning to install a statue of the late actor, whose song-dance-romance sequences against the Alps had set the Bollywood trend of shooting in the picturesque locations of the country.
“The Swiss government has highlighted its India connection by installing Yash Chopra’s statue in Interlaken. Now, considering Sridevi’s role in promoting tourism here, there is a proposal to honour the actor by having her statue here,” a source familiar with the developments said.
Raj Kapoor’s 1964 film Sangam was the first Indian film shot in Switzerland, which was followed by An Evening in Paris in 1967.
Since Sangam, Bollywood made Switzerland their favourite shooting location, paving way to cement the image of Switzerland, especially the Alpine scenery, as a romantic paradise for Indians. Aditya Chopra’s 1995 hit Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ) captured the imagination of Indian youth, also giving an unprecedented boost to the tourism sector here. According to Switzerland Tourism’s data, in 1992, 28,834 Indians visited Switzerland, but in 2017 it went up to 326,454.
The government of Interlaken had awarded the honorary title of Ambassador of Interlaken to Yash Chopra in 2011 and a train is named after him.
Almost all the songs of Sridevi starrer Chandni were shot with Switzerland. It also put Switzerland in an average Indian’s tourist bucket list.
“Indian tourists are quite excited about the scenic locations because of the movies. Movies of Sridevi and Shah Rukh Khan have inspired many, irrespective of their age. Many of those who come here want to replicate those scenes and sometimes the excitement causes some accidents also,” the source said.
Switzerland’s India connection is not just limited to Bollywood, said Siby George, Indian ambassador to Switzerland, Liechtenstein and The Holy See (Vatican). “Yoga and Ayurveda are also getting extremely popular here. Most of the cities have Indian restaurants and there are fans of Indian food. Most of the cities have a prominent Indian connect too. Recently, when I visited Museum of Cultures in Lugano, it had photographs of Mahatma Gandhi taken by renowned Swiss photographer Mr Walter Bosshard in 1930s. The Swiss Museum of Games, at La Tour-de-Peilz in the Swiss Alps Canton of Vaud at Lake Geneva, houses rare collections of games which trace their origins to ancient India,” George told The Indian Express.