When you talk of making movies in India, Bombay is the city that instantly comes to mind. Sure, Bombay does have a number of film studios but the real Mecca of filmmaking in India is in Hyderabad – The Ramoji Film City.
Since 2005, Ramoji Film City has been certified by the Guinness World Records as being not just India’s biggest film studio but the largest film studio complex globally. It covers 1666 acres of land and includes a number of permanent sets as well as 47 sound stages. To date, over 2500 Bollywood and Tollywood movies have used the sets in this film studio complex.
The Man Behind It All
One cannot talk of Ramoji Film City without mentioning Cherukuri Ramoji Rao. With a humble background, he worked his way to becoming one of India’s most well-known media tycoons.
CR Rao is well known as a film producer, media entrepreneur and the brains behind Ramoji Film City. He started producing movies way back in 1984 and has been honored with a number of awards including the Padma Vibhushan. By the mid-1990s, he had produced over 24 movies. After shooting at multiple locations, he felt the need for a dedicated film studio complex. This film studio was to be the equivalent of Universal Studios in the USA. The seed for the Ramoji Film City had been sowed.
Planning And Designing Ramoji Film City
Ramoji film City was designed to fulfill two needs – it was to be a functional film studio complex and simultaneously a theme park. This required a vast area of land. In 1995, Ramoji Rao secured the rights to 2000 acres of land in Hyderabad, near Hayathnagar. Back then, the land was priced at Rs 2450 per acre. The land was undulating and forested.
Ramoji Rao Garu then brought in noted Art director, Nitish Roy to design the complex. Roy already held 2 National Film Awards for Art direction. He would later go on to win yet another National Film Award as well as a Filmfare award. His work on the sets of the Oscar winning movie, Gladiator brought him international recognition.
When it came to designing Ramoji Film City, the brief given was to create a theme park without cutting down the mountainside or felling any trees. It was a challenging proposition but Roy designed the film studio complex as it stands today around the existing topography. The mountains and trees were left undisturbed.
Ramoji Rao Garu wanted the Film complex to be a one-stop location for directors. His vision was that directors could walk in with a script and actors and walk out with the completed film. Thus, it needed multiple indoor and outdoor sets, gardens, sound studios, editing studios and more. The park also had to actor to team management logistics – teams coming to shoot here needed a place to stay as well as restaurants to actor for their meals.
Nitish Roy designed the park in line with Sir Ramoji Rao’s vision. Construction started in 1995 and within a year, the park was complete and ready to welcome visitors.
The Ramoji Film City , More Than Just Films
The film sets were integrated within the theme park. Today, visitors to Ramoji Film City can take selfies in the same gardens Vidya Balan shot The Dirty Picture and pose against the pillars of the Mahishmati palace as seen in Bahubali. Apart from the sets, there are 6 hotels, 9 restaurants and multiple mobile canteens catering to varying price points.
It also boasts of an Eco Zone with a sprawling aviary- Wings, a butterfly garden and a Bonsai garden. The aviary was inaugurated in 2014 with three distinct zones for ostriches, caged birds and a free fly zone. It is one of the largest aviaries in the world and home to common birds as well as exotic species like the Yellow-billed Lory, Military Macaw, Victoria Crowned Pigeon and the Chilean flamingo.
Ramoji Film City is also famed for being Asia’s largest and most extensive adventure playground. Sahas caters to adventure enthusiasts with a number of activities ranging from a net course and bungee jumping to zorbing, ATV rides and paintball.
When the Sahas Adventure Park was being designed, consultants from India as well as the Xtrem Adventures Group in France and Renaissance Entertainment and the Wyatt Design Group from the USA were brought in to assist the in-house design team.
The grounds of the theme park are also used to host cultural festivals, weddings and more.
Planning A Trip To Ramoji Film City
To see everything Ramoji Film City has to offer would take more than a single day. It’s the ideal weekend getaway destination. Check-in on a Friday evening and spend the weekend exploring film sets, picnicking on the gardens, taking photographs for the ‘gram and making memories that are sure to last a lifetime.