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Getting high on life

Punit Malhotra, director of I Hate Luv Storys, tells us why New Zealand is simply irresistible

travel Updated: Jul 03, 2010 09:23 IST

Beauty is when
even the most
experienced
cinematographers
are hard
pressed for the
best camera angle. In such
places, you simply need to
aim anywhere and start
shooting. As a filmmaker in
Queenstown, you don't have
to hunt for good locations the place itself is one giant,
exquisite locale.


We'd been scouting for a location to shoot parts of I Hate Luv Storys we were looking for landscapes that resembled Switzerland in Hindi films from the 90s. I came across Queenstown in New Zealand, and decided to start shooting there in mid- January. The place turned out to be perfect. We got an opportunity to shoot around Glenorchy, the location for Lord Of The Rings.

Queenstown is a resort town in the south-west region of New Zealand. It's primarily a tourist destination and bustling with activity throughout the year. But unlike other places, people leave you alone in Queenstown if you want some peace and quiet. The lakes, surrounding hills and greenery give you the impression that you're at an idyllic hill station, and the cool weather just adds to that. It's small in terms of area, and even if you're sitting in a cafe or ambling, there's beauty all around.

Our 18 days in Queenstown just whizzed by since we worked without a break. On the odd day that we did take an off, Imran and the rest of the crew went jet skiing and sky diving.

Queenstown is touted as the adventure capital of the world, and although we didn't have any adventure sequences in the film, everyone was excited to try them out. If it weren't for our tight schedule, we'd also have tried tramping and fly fishing.

Wine pit stop
Now, I don't drink, but visiting the southernmost vineyard in the world is an experience I would definitely not pass up. While the others indulged their craving for wine, I had an exotic meal of fresh cottage cheese, salmon and steak. It was heavenly.

There are also a lot of stalls by the roadside. I can't ever forget the fried fish and chips I had at one of these stalls. But you should also have the great fresh bread and fruit, coffee, ice cream, and the exotic cheeses that the locals make. Tourists, especially youngsters from Australia, throng the bars and nightclubs. Shops shut around 6 pm, and then the nightlife takes over. They all pour out on the roads, singing and having fun.

New Zealand has an active film culture. The locals were supportive throughout our stay. In fact, there's a place which allows you to hire equipment such as cranes and trolleys. Members of the local film commission invited us to meet government officials, and from the way they treated us, we knew how film friendly the place is. We've shot in Egypt, USA and the UK, but New Zealand is incomparable to all those. It's a little far from India but the journey is totally worth it.

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