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Manimajra becomes Abbotabad for Oscar-nominated film 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Manimajra is one of the oldest towns near Chandigarh. It is located on Chandigarh- Shimla highway towards the east of the city. It has a population of approximately three lakh. Originally, Manimajra was just like a village, but now it has been turned into a small town. This town has three main divisions of the total area which include Mariwala Town, Pipli Wala Town and the old Manimajra around majestic medieval Manimajra fort. This is the oldest fort in this area but lies now in a dilapidated condition.

The shopping area even now is confined to the old bazaar around fort area. The main bazaar is still in existence. The Chhota Bazaar is located at a little height of the main bazaar. Both these bazaars have maintained the original character and are very popular not only for the residents of Manimajara but also for the nearby areas of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. These bazaars sometimes resemble bazaars of old Delhi’s Chandini Chowk.  A walk though these bazaars gives a nostalgic feeling of old culture and heritage.

As a health professional, I had made several visits in the interiors of Manimajra town for investigation of outbreaks of water and vector-borne diseases. Eventually, I became familiar with the inner lanes of this old town near Chandigarh.

I was excited when I came to know that a team from Hollywood had arrived to shoot some parts of the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ in Manimajra. The director Kathryn Bigelow and the crew members including the star cast was there to shoot some of the areas of Manimajra quite similar to areas in West Pakistan.

The Oscar nominated film ‘Zero Dark Thirty' has been shot covering larger parts of the film in Manimajra town  besides the markets of sector 26 and sector 15 of Chandigarh. The narrow bazaars of Manimajra will appear in the film with signboards in Urdu. During shooting of the film Manimajra town was turned into Abbotabad where Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was shot dead by a team of Navy Seals in 2011.The director of the film virtually converted the shooting area into Abbotabad by replacing the signboards in Urdu. One could see Burqa clad women and men wearing skull caps walking in the narrow lanes and the bazaars of Manimajra.

The residents of Manimajra are proud that their town is now on the tourism map, especially for shooting of international films. The Oscar ceremony is scheduled to be held on 24th February. We the residents of city wish that the film wins many awards, and Chandigarh becomes the next destination for shooting of Hollywood films.

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