Meet Odpal Dejor George, the go-to person for filming in Ladakh, much sought after by Bollywood & other Indian filmmakers who want to shoot in Ladakh.
Talk about Bollywood and Ladakh, and the film that instantly comes to the mind is ‘3 Idiots’. Even though only the film’s climax was shot in Ladakh, people still clearly remember the Pangong Lake in Leh. The movie was indeed a blessing as Ladakh’s domestic tourism went up after the film was shot there.
Salman Khan’s film Tubelight was shot in Ladakh. In the title song of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, you can see Farhan Akhtar running in the picturesque Nubra Valley.
However, without the help of Odpal Dejor George, it wouldn’t be possible for directors and ad filmmakers to shoot in Ladakh.
In the past, several films have been shot in Ladakh, where Ladakh has doubled for regions like Afghanistan or Tibet. The audience won’t know it was actually Ladakh.
But thanks to 3-Idiots, people can now identify the landscape. The movie was a blessing as people got to know what and where is Ladakh,” says George.
George has worked with filmmakers on 3 Idiots, Mirzya and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and several beverage and car commercials, helped them ensure a smooth shooting schedule. But despite working with some of the biggest names in Bollywood, George ensures privacy for the stars as he wants them to work comfortably, and maintain a healthy and fun work environment.
But how did he get into the movie business?
George quit his travel agency job in Delhi in 2001, and was ready to move back to Ladakh to launch his own travel company. That was when he heard that filmmaker J P Dutta was looking for someone to help him with the shooting of his film LOC Kargil in Ladakh. Even though George had no prior experience in film production, he was determined to give it a try. George managed to meet JP Dutta.
“I still remember, I didn’t have the money to fly to Leh and I was still in Delhi, trying to collect money from my friends. We got a computer on rent, just to show J P Dutta that I have a proper office.” The office must have made an impression because the film crew agreed to give him the work and then there was no looking back for him.
Mr. Dutta also gave him some valuable advice that helped him get more offers from film-makers.
“Earlier, I used to run away from film sets after I had arranged everything for the crew. I found it very boring. But J P Dutta took to me for the shoot one day and told me ‘You need to know about what goes behind shooting a movie. You’ll get more offers soon from filmmakers’,” says George.
Also Read: Bollywood films shot in Ladakh
- Leh is overcrowded during the peak season (April to July for domestic tourists and July to September it is a mix of Indian and foreign tourists). With this boom in tourism, number of vehicles on the road have increased. Today, traffic jams are common in Ladakh.
- The amount of garbage being disposed in Ladakh has increased significantly. You will find garbage in popular tourists spots like Pangong.
- However, with rising popularity of Ladakh, George’s competition has also grown. “We have bought equipment that helps in shootings so that movie crew don’t have to carry heavy equipment from Mumbai. With other players, it has become even easier because we share this equipment as and when required. We never refuse anyone just because they are competition. Basically, we try to help each other,” George says.
In 2013, George set up Saboo Resorts, and now spends most of his time managing the property, besides helping filmmakers with their shoots.