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Saturday May 18th 2024

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge | 1995

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge film location: Saanen Railway Station, Switzerland
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge film location: Simran revels she's being sent to India to marry a man she's never seen: Saanen Railway Station, Switzerland | Photograph: Wikimedia / Joachim Kohler Bremen

The tensions between family, tradition and true love doesn't provide the most original story, but the pairing of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol was a winning formula.

After more than 20 years in England, Chaudhry Singh (Amrish Puri, familiar to Western audiences as villainous Mola Ram from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom) still prides himself on keeping up Punjabi traditions.

His elder daughter Simran (Kajol) is about to travel to India for her long-arranged marriage, when a trip to explore Europe derails the family's plans.

Mr Singh runs the convenience store at a garage in Southall, the heart of West London's Indian community and, as such, also featured in Bend It Like Beckham. The garage, which stood on The Broadway at Saxon Road, has since been demolished to make way for more retail space.

Oddly, since he also lives in Southall, his morning walk to work takes him through the heart of central London, where he's first seen feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square (this much loved tradition is now discouraged as the birds are regarded as a nuisance).

The bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the church on the square's northeast corner, bring him back from his reverie and it's off across on a quirkily touristy ramble across London – past the old County Hall building on the Thames Embankment, the Houses Of Parliament, the imposing Ministry of Defence building on Horseguards Avenue (not often seen on screen, but featured in Tom Cruise sci-fi Edge Of Tomorrow), through Hyde Park, past the monarch's residence Buckingham Palace and – least likely of all – he's suddenly way over to the East at Tower Bridge. Nevertheless, he arrives safely over in Southall. Hardly surprising his wife phones to check he's arrived safely, then.

The paths of Raj and Simran first unwittingly cross as they walk through Leicester Square – with plugs for two of the West Ends biggest cinemas: Raj and his mates are seen in front of the 9-screen Vue West End (formerly the Warner Village); while Simran and her pals stroll past the Odeon Leicester Square, the largest single-screen cinema in the UK, often used for red-carpet premieres.

Raj and Simran depart for a European jaunt from King's Cross Station (recognise it from the Harry Potter movies?) in North London, NW1.

Most, if not all, of the tour is filmed in Switzerland.

The morning after Raj demonstrates his unexpected keyboard skills in 'Paris', he makes a bogus apology to Simran and her friends. The park is at Interlaken in Switzerland.

The railway station, where Simran buys a cowbell and the pair find themselves stranded after missing the Zurich train, is Zweisimmen near Gstaad. In reality, Zweisimmen is the starting point on of a major rail line that travels to Montreux, along Lake Geneva.

Undaunted they embark on a road trip. A significant part of the romance between Raj and Simran unfolds in the picturesque villages dotting Switzerland's Gstaad-Saanenland region.

The tipsy fantasy number, Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Main, is mostly filmed on the promenade of Gstaad, a tiny-yet-charming village in western Switzerland. A drunk Simran enters the chocolate shop Early Beck, on the Promenade and runs outside, leaving Raj to pay the bill.

Towards the end of the song, Raj and Simran return to a hotel in a horse carriage along the Gstaad Promenade, an entirely car-free street lined with boutiques and local shops.

The snowy landscape where Simran dances with abandon is Jungraujoch, which has the distinction of being the highest train station in Europe, famous for its glaciers and for breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps.

Simran is entranced by the sight of the steeple of the St Mauritius Church in Saanen. The church dates from the 13th century, and was expanded in the 15th century. The interior, in which she prays but Raj makes a cheery if less than devout attempt, is that of St Grat Church, in the village of Montbovon.

It's at t Saanen Railway Station that Simran revels she's being sent to India to marry a man she's never seen.

Returning to London, Raj gets a pep talk from his dad which sends him hurtling round the world to India to woo Simran from her boorish intended by winning over her family with charm.

Tujhe Dekha Tho song at the mustard fields near Simran's house in Punjab, is actually shot just outside Gurgaon.

There's a short flashback to the idyll of Switzerland with the romantic ballad Tujhe Dekha To. The small and scenic emerald green, where Raj and Simran enjoy the old standby gag of catching an old boot while fishing, is Lake Lungeren in central Switzerland.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge film location: Apta Railway Station, Maharashtra, India
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge film location: the ending: Apta Railway Station, Maharashtra, India | Photograph: Wikimedia / Trinidade

The movie ends at Apta railway station on the Panvel-Roha route of the Central Railway, between Rasayani and Jite railway stations, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The station, perfectly set amidst hills and greenery, is situated on a curve, which makes it so visually attractive. So much so that Danny Boyle's 2008 Oscar-winner Slumdog Millionaire uses the same railway station.