Art from kazaikos Tumblr page.
About a decade ago someone on my LiveJournal feed was a big Bollywood fan and frequently posted stills from movies she’d seen. There was one still—I don’t know from which movie—showed the lead couple in a flowery meadow remarkably similar to the one where Anakin and Padme were frolicking in AOTC. I pointed this out and she said in all likelihood George Lucas might’ve gotten the idea from Bollywood films, since this is a common motif.
In fact, about 12-13 years ago I was still living in the Washington, D.C. metro area, home to a lot of Indians. There was a cable channel dedicated to all things Indian, including Bollywood films on Sunday. If I happened to be home, I’d watch part of or all of these flicks because whether they were in English or Hindi, or a little bit of both, they were extremely entertaining. There was one film in particular that was sort of like “Rambo,” only with a love story and musical numbers. The villain was the same guy who played Mola Ram in “Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom.” A movie with something for everyone! The hero rescues the leading lady and after a violent chase scene, the love birds find themselves alone in a…flowery meadow. The hero immediately starts playing a flute and dancing. The leading lady starts dancing and singing. This goes on until the bad guys catch up with them; perhaps if the couple had kept running and hadn’t made all of that racket, they might’ve made a getaway.
In Indian film, these kinds of interludes are known as picturisation. Some scenes take place in a palace, or gardens, the streets of someplace like Paris, or out in nature. A lot of those meadow scenes and similar scenes on mountaintops, snowy hillsides, forests, or lush green valleys were actually shot in Switzerland. According to this site, Indian film’s love affair with Switzerland largely kicked off with the films of a Yash Chopra. He wasn’t the first to use the Alps in his movies but he popularized Swiss scenery and it not only became a common destination for filmmakers but also for Indian tourists checking out the locations of where their favorite movies were made.
A lot of people thought the picnic scene in AOTC was inspired by “The Sound Of Music,” largely because the only movie they’d ever seen with Alpine scenery was “The Sound Of Music.” While the Lake Como region is in Italy, not Switzerland, the scenery is somewhat similar. Sure, Lucas might’ve visited the place while on vacation once and thought it would look like a nice romantic setting. But this is also someone whose cinematic vocabulary is beyond that of most people and given a few of these shots below, it would be one heck of a coincidence if Lucas hadn’t been inspired by Bollywood: