In 2009, Vidya Balan and Abhishek Bachchan went to Cambridge with Paa. A year later, Amitabh Bachchan played Teen Patti (2010) at the university’s St John’s College, while Shah Rukh Khan said My Name Is Khan (2010) at UCLA. Back in 2001, Arjun Rampal had taken Pyar, Ishq Aur Mohabbat to the University Of Glasgow. Recently, Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra’s Teri Meri Kahaani was unveiled at the University Of Nottingham while Abbas-Mustan took their desi Italian Job, Players (2012), to Victoria University, New Zealand.
Bollywood has been to many foreign campuses but Trinity College, Dublin, has been out of bounds so far. They have so far only opened their doors to Hollywood films like Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx (1970), Educating Rita (1983), Circle Of Friends (1995) and Michael Collins (1996).
During the Irish ceasefire in 1995, Kabir Khan was driving down from Belfast to Dublin with Saeed Naqvi, Indian journalist, author and TV commentator-host, when he saw Trinity and told himself that if he ever wrote a story that could be set there, he’d return. He did, after 17 years, with Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, to shoot his third Hindi movie in the institution’s hallowed corridors.
“We shot the song, Banjaara... for four days. Trinity was rocking to the Bollywood beat. In fact, a part of the background cast comprises actual professors and students,” says Kabir, admitting it wasn’t easy getting in. “The Irish Film Board offered me a choice of two thousand locations but not Trinity. I was firm… ‘No Trinity, no Dublin.’’” Around the time, Michael Nash, a lecturer in psychiatric nursing at the college, flew to India for a conference in Bangalore. Kabir met him with a request to film at Trinity. Michael was open to the idea, and facilitated Hindi cinema’s entry into the famous Dublin college.
RAW agent Tiger is sent to investigate a scientist suspected of selling missile secrets to Pakistan. He ends up falling in love with the professor’s caretaker, Zoya. They sing Banjaara before going on an eight-city tour to uncover a deadly conspiracy.
Last year, Kabir’s unit spent five weeks in Ireland. Besides, Trinity, they also filmed at St Stephen’s Green and the Dublin Castle. “The Irish have a historical connection with India, given that it was also colonised by the British. In their fight for independence, they’ve been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru,” says Kabir. “Today, Ireland has realised that Salman and Katrina are big Bollywood stars whose reach extends beyond NRIs. A film like Ek Tha Tiger could help showcase the beautiful country and boost tourism.”