Tough shooting

Infrastructure, permits limit o'seas production

Hollywood studios may be looking to lense films in India, but few producers from outside have ventured to film in the country.

The Mira Nair-helmed “Vanity Fair” and Jackie Chan’s “The Myth” are among the handful of films that have been lensed in Indian locales. Others include Hyperion’s soon-to-be-released crossover “Marigold,” which stars Bollywood’s Salman Khan and Ali Larter, and the Bourne series.

“When Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water,’ which is set in India, has to move to neighboring Sri Lanka after right-wing politicos refused to let her shoot in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, it sends out the wrong signals,” says trade analyst Indira Mirani. “After all if they are bringing in money, they should be allowed to shoot without interference.”

Indian pols have oftentalked about the idea of a one-stop shop to issue permits to projects wishing to shoot in the country. But with the entity still to be set up, the time it takes to secure lensing permits remains a deterrent to accessing India’s varied locations.

“The time and number of permissions required (has been) reduced drastically. All it takes now, is for a bound script to be submitted to the relevant government department,” says Nitin Desai of Asia’s largest, state-of-the art, soundproof floor, ND Studios, which was set up after Oliver Stone condemned the state of Indian studios while location scouting for “Alexander the Great.” The film was later filmed in Morocco.

India’s vast geographical spread lends itself to diverse locations, from deserts to lush forests and pristine beaches.

“These however, remain inaccessible even to tourists due to the underdeveloped infrastructure,” says Puja Bedi CEO, Film Finances’ India subsid. “But with the government’s recent thrust in developing infrastructure for tourism, these should be available for filming soon.”

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