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Bollywood flies to Santa Fe for ‘Kites’

New Mexico stands in for Middle East

Several Hollywood directors, including Paul Haggis and Michael Bay, have used New Mexico to play the Middle East, but only one Bollywood team has come all the way to the state to make a movie.

With “Kites,” Indian producer Rakesh Roshan and director Anurag Basu sought a Southwestern backdrop suitable for their “Thelma and Louise”-style romance, in which star Hrithik Roshan (son of producer Rakesh) and Latina love interest Barbara Mori try to outrun cops and gangsters from Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is hardly the first time producer Roshan has used gone abroad for locations, having previously traveled to Banff, Canada (for sci-fi “Koi … mil gaya”), and Singapore (for superhero pic “Krrish”).

In this case, the project came together so quickly he didn’t wait to get New Mexico’s incentives.

“I was aware of the tax breaks, but I didn’t go for them,” Roshan says. “You needed a special form, and I didn’t have time.”

Roshan was dining with a friend in Vegas who, aware he was scouting for “Kites,” suggested New Mexico.

“When I went to New Mexico, I found all the locations I had in my vision,” Roshan recalls.

Much of “Kites” was shot around Santa Fe, with key scenes filmed at Bonanza Creek Ranch and the Zia Pueblo gypsum mines (with a little CG help, the dramatic white rock formations double as a seaside cliff).

“The film commission showed us how to get to a place,” Roshan says. Any time they sought help, “one phone call was all that was needed.”

The movie used local crews, which were very helpful and well equipped, he reports: “Not at all difficult, all film crews all over the world are the same.”

According to Roshan, if his next film (reported to be a “Krrish” sequel) needs the location, he’ll return to New Mexico. As for the 25% tax rebate and other incentives? “Next time I’ll take advantage of them,” he vows.

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