Octopussy screened non-stop for over three decades

Octopussy screened non-stop for over three decades

Udaipur, also known as Venice of the East, was the location for 13th James Bond classic Octopussy.

It’s been over 30 years since Roger Moore came and left, but the ‘Bond’ still lives on in the bylanes of Udaipur. The Hollywood blockbuster starring Roger Moore, Kabir Bedi and former Indian tennis ace Vijay Amritraj is screened daily at about 25 cafes around Lake Pichola every evening to attract tourists.

The movie, which was released in 1983, is screened free of charge in rooftop restaurants. Most of the cafes and restaurants are situated along Lake Pichola and  they provide a majestic view of the Lake Palace, a summer palace built in the middle of Lake Pichola by the erstwhile rulers and was shown as home of the titular character Octopussy, played by Maud Adams. As the evening sets in, one can see a number of foreigners enjoying the movie on big screens with magnificent view of Lake Pichola and Lake Palace where the movie was shot.

“For last 20 years, I am screening the movie. Tourists come here everyday to enjoy the movie over a couple of drinks. For them it’s a wonderful experience that takes them to 1980s when the entire crew camped in Udaipur to shoot the movie,” said Manoj Pareek, manager Ashiana Café in Udaipur. Mostly foreigners come here to watch the movie and the number of domestic tourists has always been negligible, he added.

Daily screening of Octopussy has now become exclusivity of the rooftop cafes. The show is not always houseful and many times movie is screened for a couple of tourists in the café. “Many times the café is overcrowded with tourists while sometimes the film is screened for hardly one or two. But once we start the movie it is never interrupted even if a big group of tourists expres their wish to see it from the beginning,” said Karan Rathore, owner of Sunrise
Restaurant and Café.

Many tourists visit all the locations where the movie was filmed in Udaipur. Even guides vividly describe the incidents that happened some three decades ago to tourists. “First you see the location in the movie and then you see them in reality next day. It’s a thrilling experience. After watching the movie, maximum number of tourists want to visit the market area near Jagdish Mandir where James Bond is chased by Kabir Bedi in an autorickshaw and Vijay Amritraj helps the Bond to escape,” said Brajraj Singh, a tourist guide.

Some French tourists who were in Udaipur and watched Octopussy in one of the cafes near Lake Pichola agreed with Brajraj. For them it was a refreshing experience. “It was an amazing experience and I felt that the star cast of the movie is still shooting in Udaipur. We
visited Jag Mandir and Jagdish temple in the morning and I was thrilled to see these places in the movie. Our tour operator told us about such a place and I feel that the local administration should publicise it beca­use more and more tourists would like to come here,” said Natalie, a French tourist.

Most of these cafes started screening the movie as a mark of pride because Udaipur was the first Indian city to be shown in a Bond movie. Over the years, this pride has become their identity and a unique selling point of their business.

“It was only after 1983 that Udaipur started picking up as an international tourist destination. Earlier, tourists used to come here but Octopussy showcased the lake city to entire world and the number of footfalls increased drastically. Today, most of the tourists coming to
Rajasthan visit Udaipur,” said Asutosh Rajawat, a hotel owner. “I have seen
several tourists who first saw Udaipur in Octopussy and later paid a visit to this city,” he added.

All these cafes did brisk business in late the 80s and 90s when cafes and restaurants would remain crowded with tourists. Over the years, the numbers have dropped but the shows continue.

“It’s one of the classical movies of James Bond. Earlier, youngsters would come here to watch the movie but their numbers have decreased. Now, we have a mixed audience of all age groups who prefer to come here,” said Manoj Pareek.

Most café owners feel that the numbers have decreased due to massive expansion of tourism in Udaipur. Also, the café owners never publicise what they have been doing for so many years.

For years these cafes are thriving in the narrow lanes of Udaipur by screening Octopussy. Some have collaborated with a few tourist guides and tour operators while many are still dependent on the normal footfall. Despite all odds and apprehensions, the café owners are firm on continuing with the show as it has given them a separate identity in the lake city.


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