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Explosion in Poland

Recently, a bomb exploded in the middle of Krakow’s town square and yet there was little panic. The locals were aware that an Indian film crew was in the picturesque city to shoot Aazaan. There was panic...

bollywood Updated: Dec 24, 2010 15:43 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

Recently, a bomb exploded in the middle of Krakow’s town square and yet there was little panic. The locals were aware that an Indian film crew was in the picturesque city to shoot Aazaan. And they were ready to block traffic, shut down the airport and even change the hands on the clock to promote Poland.

“They literally laid the city out for us,” gushes the film’s director, Prashant Chadha, whose espionage thriller is being filmed in five countries, including Poland, Morocco, Germany, China or Taiwan and India.

Chadha admits that the original plan was to shoot in Prague. But around the same time, Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible IV and Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar also decided on Prague and zeroed in on almost the same locations. “So, we shifted base to Krakow and it is a filmmaker’s dream shooting there,” he says. Earlier, Yash Raj’s Aamir Khan-Kajol starrer Fanaa (2006) was shot in Poland.

Chadha has also captured the picture-postcard beauty of Cologne and proudly points out that Farhan Akhtar’s Don 2 used the same team in Germany. “I’d hired them earlier too, for Aap Kaa Suroor,” he adds.

He’s just wrapped up a schedule in Marrakech, whose Atlas Mountains were also an exotic setting for Saif Ali Khan’s Agent Vinod. For Chadha, the Moroccan city also doubles up for Waziristan in Afghanistan.

He’s also been filming in Casablanca that earlier played host to the Spy Game (2001) crew. And moved into location seen in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001) and Body Of Lies (2008), Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone (2010) and Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004).

“I took 35-minute boat ride to Tangiers too that connects Africa to the rest of Europe. It’s drawn spies from olden days to The Bourne Ultimatum,” he says. His guilt-ridden undercover agent, played by Sachin Joshi, is on a mission to find his brother and save the country from the threat of biological warfare.

Chadha’s film started with the title Mujjahir on the theme of Jihad but has since moved away from the religious fundamentalism of the Middle East to point fingers at China. It brings the deadly Ebola virus with its 80 per cent fatality rate, out of the research papers to the Indian screen. “The virus originated in North Africa and in my film is targetting India. We plan to shoot in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore next and wrap up the climax in China or China-like Taiwan since I’m not sure if we’ll get permission to shoot in China,” he says.

The reason for this five-country tour is that Chadha wants to wow viewers in the promos itself to draw them to the theatres. He delivered a crowd-puller with Aap Ka Suroor (2007) earlier that marked the debut of a musical star, Himesh Reshammiya. He’s hoping to do the same with Joshi and Baucher.

Point out to him that 2011 is the year of big-budget star-studded ‘desi’ spy thrillers like Agent Vinod, Ra.One and Don 2 that have also been shot abroad, and he says, “Yeah, but I’m coming first. I know I can’t compete with these biggies, so I’m targeting a June release.”

Who’s that girl?
Guess model Candice Boucher who was seen in the April 2010 issue of Playboy magazine, is almost recognisable as an all-covered up Moroccan sand artist. Aazaan marks the Bollywood debut of the gorgeous Boucher.

Chadha has known her for four years — she’s his sister’s friend — and when scripting the film, thought Boucher would make a perfect mystery miss. “She agreed without even listening to a narration,” he beams. “Candice is a definite USP for our film. Given that she’s the Playboy girl, the instant connect is: She must be hot. She is but there’s also a certain vulnerability that makes her more appealing.”

Boucher who is back in South Africa describes the shoot as an “amazing experience” and completely different from the Playboy shoot. “That was print, this is live action,” she reasons. “I never imagined myself in a Bollywood film but now I’m looking forward to its premiere. I love your country and want to see a lot of India.”