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UK shoots run into visa trouble

india Updated: Aug 05, 2006 10:13 IST
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The list of casualties of July 11 seems to be getting longer. The latest to suffer are film units who applied for visas to the UK for shooting schedules after the deadly serial train blasts.

Filmmaker Vipul Shah, who is in London for the shooting of his next film, Namaste London, is hassled because an important part of his unit did not get visas in time for the schedule.

Recently, Mashhoor Amrohi, grandson of the legendary Kamal Amrohi, was forced to abort the London schedule of his acting-directing debut Hum Laakh Chhupaayen Pyaar… Magar when the visas of his unit were rejected.

Shah has been regularly visiting London this year for the British casting of his film that stars Akshay Kumar, Upen Patel and Katrina Kaif, and to decide on locations.

When the time came to begin filming, Shah was shocked to learn that the visas of many of his unit members had not been cleared.

“I’m here (London) and clueless why the visas of my unit members were not granted. And their absence is causing me a huge loss, adding to the expenditure and the film’s budget,” Shah said over the telephone.

Shah has no option but to make do with available resources and go ahead with the shooting. “I don’t have a choice. I’ve to finish five more week’s of shooting here.”

Before July 11, there seems to have been no problem. “We applied for the visas of 40 people in the first week of July and got them cleared in one day,” Ravi Chopra, who shot his Baabul for ten days in London, said.

Other films shot in the UK without any hassles were Ashtavinayak Cinevisions’s Mr Fraud and Baagham Baagh.

Amrohi had such a bad experience - he said he was not even told the grounds on which his crew did not get visas - that he decided to shift locations from London to Singapore, but not without much heartburn and financial loss.

Amrohi lost about Rs 7 lakh only in the application and processing fees, and a few more lakhs in cancelled hotel and travel bookings, shooting permissions and the like, all without a single frame shot.

An official at the British High Commission office, however, said there had been “no change in the terms and conditions” for visa application.

“All visa criteria, including for film crews, are on our website ukinindia.com. All terms and conditions for the applications are very much the same as before the Mumbai local train blasts,” the official, who did not wish to be named, said.

“If any criterion is not met, then the visa officer rejects the application and gives in writing the reasons for the same, and even signs it.”

Shah would not say whether he thought the July 11 blasts had a role in the rejections of visa applications, but Amrohi feels that was the reason.

“The Mumbai local blasts sure have made obtaining a UK visa more difficult. I’m sure before July 11 we wouldn’t have faced these problems,” Amrohi said.

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