Dr Avinash Dhakne, MD, MTDC is a busy man. He wants project Bollywood Tourism to materialise as soon as possible. But, with the entire project still being in its conceptual stage, things are far from ready and it may well be a few years before Dhakne’s enthusiasm bears fruit. “You never know,” Dhakne contradicts. “It all depends on the Film City authorities. We’re trying to procure space in their premises. Once we get the green signal, the process will gain momentum,” says an optimistic Dhakne.
A few months back, the Maharashtra government had made public its plans to lure tourists to Mumbai using Bollywood. “Films are a big draw and our very own Bollywood attracts its fair share of attention too,” Dhakne says. The project has officially been christened as ‘Mumbai Film Tourism’, so as to avoid raking up any controversy with the use of the term ‘Bollywood’. The officials are deciding upon Gorai, in North Mumbai or Film City at Goregaon, to set up the project. “The idea is that if the project materialises in Gorai, visitors from South Mumbai can come there via the sea route. The project will be implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model,” Vijaykumar Gavit, state tourism minister had said back then.But clearly, Film City is the first choice for authorities.
What will the tour comprise of? Dhakne explains, “There will be mock shootings to begin with. People are very enthralled by the process of shooting a film. But we also plan to build a set where tourists will be treated to the technical aspects of film-making,” says Dhakne. But why mock shootings, when there are live shootings going on in Film City almost every day. “It would be great if a film unit allows us to let visitors watch the shoots. But this kind of gaping makes the actors very uncomfortable, as they don’t want to be screened. That’s our biggest problem,” sighs Dhakne. “But we’ll try doing that,” he adds, as an afterthought.
The fares have not been decided upon yet, but Dhakne assures that they will charge a nominal fee. “Our motive is not to make profits. The revenue generated from the ticket sales should suffice for the maintenance. That’s it. We just want people to go through the right channel to capture Bollywood on their cameras. If this project is a hit and people come from all over to see it, it will result in multiple benefits for the state. Local hotels, for instance, will have more business. All this will add to the state coffers,” he analyses. Refusing to comment on what else the project will have in store for tourists, Dhakne says, “Our plans are evolving every day. I can’t reveal any more, because they may change,” he says.