Back in the 60s, Raj Kapoor went honeymooning with his first colour film, Sangam (1964), across Europe. Others followed but costs were prohibitive, and until our films remained rooted in Indian cities, the wanderlust didn't drive our filmmakers to foreign shores. Then the UK and Switzerland tourism boards got into action, wooing Yash Chopra with incentives galore. And from a stray song in the Alps, YRF productions took a Euro-rail train ride with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayege (1995) and kept going further and further.
Of late, irked over months and mountains of paperwork for permissions, followed by unanticipated disruptions during shoot and flash strikes by protesting crews, many filmmakers who can afford it, are abandoning shooting unfriendly India to explore strange new worlds where Bollywood has never ventured before.
Setting your movie in Cuba, Ireland, Turkey or Korea has become the new trend and the USP of multi-crore movies. Ramesh Taurani, whose Race 2 unit has just returned from an extensive schedule in Turkey and Cyprus, admits that shooting in Europe is expensive, but argues that if it is a big film, the extra cost is justified. “Also, it’s far easier filming abroad in comparison to India which is a more shooting unfriendly country. “We’ve made a representation to the government for a one-window clearance that will make pre-production easier,” says Taurani.
The buzz is that Gujarat is all set to implement this, but until that happens, Bollywood is going places.
Kabir Khan’s spy thriller, Ek Tha Tiger, has been shot in nine cities, besides New Delhi — many of them we haven’t heard of, let alone seen in a Hindi film, like Dublin, Antalya, Varadero, Zako and Havana. “For me, locations are characters that give my film an extra edge,” says Khan, who braved death threats to complete Kabul Express in Kabul, then moved to New York for New York.
“This time, I’ve taken Bollywood
to Ireland and Cuba for the first time with the support of the governments there. The Irish understand that with Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif they can showcase their country to a huge South-Asian audience and promote tourism. Ditto with the Cubans, who, given the embargo on Hollywood, were more than welcoming. The paperwork takes time, but it’s a whole new world waiting to be explored on screen,” the filmmaker says.
Sajid Nadidawala, whose company has bagged three awards for exploiting virgin locales, has been
globetrotting with his movies, from Australia (Hey Babyy, 2007) to Puglia (Housefull, 2010), Los Angeles (Kambakkht Ishq, 2009) and Las Vegas (Anjanaa Anjaani, 2010). “Housefull 2 was shot in the tiny island in Karabi where Hangover 2 was filmed. We couldn’t even anchor boats there,” says Sajid, whose team was in Korea recently on a recce for Kick. “For me, shooting abroad lends grandeur to my films as befits a big budget production.”