India on foreign filmmakers map

MUMBAI: More and more foreign filmmakers heading to India to shoot their films on never-seen locations are giving a boost to the country‘s economy. The Indian information and broadcasting ministry has cleared 11 projects this year and has nine more in various stages of approval compared to 24 films in 2009.

"We have given permission for more than 100 movies in the last three to four years," said D.P. Reddy, the joint secretary (films) at the department. "It‘s primarily because we have a lot of good locales where shooting can take place and we have the technical competence," he said.

India has been an enticing location for foreign filmmakers for as long as cinema has existed. In the 1920s, German director Franz Osten made a series of black-and-white silent films inspired by India‘s many religions and rich history.

Richard Attenborough‘s Gandhi (1982) shot in India brought the country to a worldwide audience. Then, films such like the James Bond thriller Octopussy (1983), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and A Mighty Heart (2007) were all shot in India.

This year‘s Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts was the first high-profile film after Slumdog Millionaire to come to India for filming.

Some film industry watchers have attributed the surge in interest in India to the runaway success of Slumdog at the 2009 Oscars. But Reddy said India was already attracting interest even before the British-made film came out.

Reddy said that filmmakers were coming from all over the world, with recent permission given to studios behind the latest film in the Mission: Impossible franchise and the big screen adaptation of Life of Pi.

Other films in the pipeline include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that will star British actress Judy Dench and will be directed by John Madden.

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