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London's the toast of Bollywood this season

London seems to have become a big favourite with Bollywood. At least 40 Hindi films have been shot in the city in the past year.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2007 14:41 IST

With the Thames, Big Ben, London Eye and other landmarks making for picturesque backdrops, London seems to have become a big favourite with Bollywood. At least 40 Hindi films have been shot in the city in the past year.

Close on the heels of "Namastey London", "Cheeni Kum" and "Salaam-e-Ishq" and the ready to release "Jhoom Barabar Jhoom" and upcoming ventures "Goal" and "Chak de India", which have also been shot in London.

It's also becoming increasingly common to see spectacular song and dance numbers staged in front of landmarks such as the Tower Bridge or London Eye.

"The filming of Bollywood movies is seen as a bonus by Londoners as it brings revenue and business to the city. Indian productions are worth $28 million annually to the London economy," an official from Film London, a film and media agency, said on e-mail.

Just a decade ago, only big names like Yash Chopra or Subhash Ghai could think of shooting in the expensive city. They filmed major portions of "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" and "Pardes" there respectively.

But today the dynamics have changed - not only has the city become a hot destination for all kinds of Hindi films, but there are also several cinema halls in London dedicated to screening Bollywood films. The three largest multiplex chains - Odeon, Vue Cinemas and Cineworld - routinely screen Hindi films that appear in Britain's top 15 film lists.

There were 2.6 million visits to Hindi films in Britain last year making them the most popular among foreign language films. Hindi films accounted for 16 percent of all British releases in total and grossed 12.4 million pounds at the box office.

Karan Johar's infidelity drama "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" (KANK) was the third highest grossing foreign language film at the box office in 2006. Though KANK was set in the US, his earlier release "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" was filmed in London.

Frequent filming seems to have boosted tourism in the city. According to reports, in 2006 London welcomed over 212,000 tourists from India with an overall annual spend of 139 million pounds, overtaking spending from Japanese tourists at 123 million pounds for the first time.

"There is no doubt that by choosing London as a location for filming Bollywood is making it an attractive destination for tourists," said the official.

"London is acutely aware that the benefits of increased engagement must flow both ways. We are committed to ensuring reciprocity of outcomes, to ensure India can gain the same economic benefits from the exchange that London hopes to enjoy," added the official.

Film London realises that India is an important emerging market and one can rake in profit by encouraging film crews to shoot there. In 2005, 35 Indian productions were filmed in the borough of Westminster alone.

It is estimated that Indian productions are worth 28 million pounds annually to London. Therefore Indian filmmakers are getting top priority.

Film London is now setting up an advisory group composed of Indian producers with the experience of working in London to inform and advise other Indian production companies about working there.

It strongly recommends that productions hire an experienced British location manager and follow the Code of Practice. Dedicated pages with detailed information and advice for Indian productions are available on the website

First Published: Jun 09, 2007 17:37 IST