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Friday August 17th 2018

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... | 2001

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... filming location: Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... location: the Raichand mansion in 'Delhi': Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire | Photograph: wikimedia / Graham Taylor

For only his second film as director Karan Johar brings together the biggest stars of Hindi cinema and pulls out all the stops to deliver a truckload of industrial strength soap – though at three and a half hours, the family drama works much better than the drippy Rohan-Pooja flirtation in the second half.

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... filming location: Stowe School, Buckinghamshire
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... location: Rohan wins the crucial cricket game for 'Manor House' school: Stowe School, Buckinghamshire | Photograph: wikimedia / Shaun Ferguson

'Manor House', the UK school where the result of the opening cricket match comes down to Rohan Raichand (Hrithik Roshan), is Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. This former home of the Duke of Buckinghamshire, set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, is four miles north of Buckingham town itself (a few miles west of Milton Keynes), and usually open to the public for the first two weeks in April and from July through to the beginning of September. You can see the school again as '1930s Berlin' in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.

Rohan heads back to the Raichand family estate in 'Delhi', which turns out to be Waddesdon Manor, at the west end of Waddesdon village, on the A 41 six miles northwest of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

It was built in the 1880s as a country retreat, in the style of a Loire château, for French-born banker Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. In the 1950s, the house was bequeathed to the National Trust and it’s now open to the public.

Not surprisingly, its striking appearance means it regularly features on-screen, as a 'French chateau' in Carry On – Don't Lose Your Head, in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Karel Reisz's biopic Isadora and – probably most famously – the ‘rogue’ Bond movie Never Say Never Again. It goes without saying that, like almost every stately home in the UK, it popped up in TV’s Downton Abbey.

No more Indian is the HQ of the Raichand company, which is Canary Wharf in East London.

The 'Bharat Sweet Shop', run by Anjali (Kajol) the daughter of a Chandni Chowk halwai, is supposedly Chandni Chowk, a major street within the walled city of Old Delhi, which was once the grandest of the markets in India. Chandni Chowk's speciality is the variety of its markets, from authentic Indian food (well, what else?), delicacies and sweets, to sarees, leather goods and electronics. The area is even more congested than the rest of the city so, with the amount of action centred here – not to mention the Yeh Ladki Hai Allah number – it was recreated in the studio at Filmcity in Mumbai.

As Rahul becomes smitten with the regarded-as-lower-class Anjali, the fantasy number Suraj Hua Maddham sees the pair suddenly, and for no apparent reason, whisked off to Egypt.

The country is indicated by the appearance of the Pyramids at Giza. This pyramid complex is found on the Giza Plateau, an area of solid bedrock at the old town of Giza, about eight miles southwest of Cairo city centre, and now absorbed as part of the spreading metropolis.

This complex includes the three Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, as well as several cemeteries (mastabas for lesser royals who didn't quite merit a full monument) and the remnants of the village for the thousands of workers who did all the building.

If you're expecting to see the Pyramids rising from a featureless desert, you may be surprised how close they are to the built-up area. In fact, there's a Metro Line running from Cairo to Giza, although it doesn't go all the way to the complex, so there's still a bit of a journey. Alternatively, there's a CTA (Cairo Transport Authority) bus or you can take a taxi to the Pyramids from any part of Cairo at a reasonable cost – the fastest and easiest method. Use the Careem application (Middle East version of Uber) for Android or iPhones to order a car and professional driver. With options for fixed rates, it is the safest – and haggle-free – way to get around. This option is especially recommended for women solo travellers.

As with any busy tourist area, beware of scams and chancers. Don't give up your ticket to anyone outside the complex checkpoints. There are many unscrupulous opportunists claiming to work for the government who'll grab your ticket and start their own unofficial 'tour'.

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... filming location: Farafra, Western Desert, Egypt
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... location: the fantasy number Suraj Hua Maddham: Farafra, Western Desert, Egypt | Photograph: wikimedia / Daniel Csörföly

From this main tourism site, the musical number is off to less accessible sites, starting with the black quartz mountains of the Bahariya Oasis, in the Western Desert some 230 miles southwest of Cairo.

The sand-blasted white rocky outcrops can be found even further southwest into the White Desert, at Farafra, approximately midway between the Dakhla and Bahariya oases.

You should be aware that there are currently significant security threats in regions of Egypt such as the Western desert and Sinai. Organised tours are probably your best option.

Finally, the golden sands are those of of Hurghada, a resort on the Red Sea, nearly 250 miles southeast of Cairo.

Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) flies off to London to track down his estranged step-brother – cue a montage of the capital's tourist landmarks: Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the theatres of the West End.

For the Vande Mataram number, he conjures up a bevy of dancing girls outside the Empire Leicester Square Cinema, 5-6 Leicester Square, WC2; before flitting off to the Thames Embankment; the magisterial entrance of the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road in South Kensington, SW7; and the concourse of Liverpool Street Station, a popular location seen in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, and – seen before major renovations in all its smoke-blackened Victorian glory – in David Lynch's The Elephant Man.

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... filming location: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... location: Pooja's college: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Alexanderm14

'King's College', where the grown up Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) displays attitude, is Blenheim Palace, in the village of Woodstock, eight miles north of Oxford, Oxfordshire.

The vast Baroque mansion, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in the early 18th century, was home to the Dukes of Marlborough, the Churchill family, becoming the birthplace and childhood home of wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. The house and its extensive grounds are now open to the public.

Blenheim appeared as ‘Hallucinogen Hall’, the home of Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery) in Jeremiah Chechik’s 1998 film of The Avengers, as 'Elsinore' in Kenneth Branagh's epic 1996 film of Hamlet, as the palace of King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann) in The Young Victoria and as the 'Italian palazzo' in 2015 James Bond movie Spectre.

When (the unrecognised) Rohan rocks up at the college in a swanky red Lamborghini, the Deewana Hai Dekho begins in front of Blenheim Palace, but soon moves on the several different locations.

The college's football field (complete with very American cheerleaders) is the Millennium Stadium / Stadiwm y Mileniwm in Cardiff, South Wales. Opened in 1999, it's home to the Welsh national rugby union team, and on-screen stood in for London's 'Wembley Stadium' in 28 Weeks Later...

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... filming location: The Great Court, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... location: Deewana Hai Dekho – the college interior: The Great Court, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1 | Photograph: Wikimedia / Jon Sullivan

The newly-roofed, sparkling white Great Court of the British Museum, Great Russell Street, becomes the college interior. Opened in 2000, the Court is a radical revamp of the museum's old circular Reading Room.

And then it's on to Hay's Galleria, 2 Hay's Lane, on the South Bank of the Thames in Southwark SE1. Originally Hay's Wharf and warehouse, where tea clippers from India and China delivered most of the nation's favourite beverage to the Port of London, the old dock was roofed-over and redeveloped in the 1980s.

From here, it's not too far to the restaurant terrace where Rohan asks Pooja for help to reunite him with Rahul. It's Cantina del Ponte, 36 Shad Thames, on the Butler's Wharf quayside. Initially a Terence Conran restaurant, it’s since changed hands, but remains a heartily Italian restaurant – and with a terrific view of Tower Bridge, seen also in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Don't bother to search out the vast London disco to which Pooja goes with Robbie, and where Rohan inevitably turns up, which was a set built at the old Filmistan Studio in the Goregaon district of Mumbai.

'Millfield Primary School', where Krishi is supposed to sing Do Re Mi but instead sings Jana Gana Mana, the Indian national anthem, at the 'School Annual Day Function' (uh?) looks pretty impressive even for a private school. It's actually Osterley Park House, Jersey Road, Isleworth, west London, an Elizabethan mansion magnificently transformed by architect Robert Adam between 1760 and 1780, and now a National Trust property. The house supplied the interior of 'Wayne Manor' in The Dark Knight Rises, among many other film appearances.

Rohan 'encourages' his parents to visit London, where he engineers a meeting in the vast Bluewater Shopping Mall, at Greenhithe in Kent (though it's nearly 18 miles southeast of the city). Opened in 1999, it houses 330 stores, 40 cafés and restaurants and the 13-screen Showcase Cinema.