Mauritius, South Africa make their case for film locales

MUMBAI: The third edition of the film tourism event Locations 2005 took place yesterday in the Mumbai suburb of Juhu. Representatives from Mauritius and South Africa made their case for Bollywood directors to come over and film.

Mauritius' hotel chain Sofitel Imperial resident manager Ramesh Bappoo made a presentation that underlined that connection Mauritius has had with Bollywood for many years. Sofitel Imperial is a member of the organisation Island Filmworks. The organisation that pushes itself as a one stop shop for shooting in Mauritius is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Bappoo pointed that Island Filmworks has handled over 400 overseas productions. Recent films that have been shot there include Mujhse Shaadi Karoge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Island Filmworks teams help in co-ordinating production. A large of Mauritius' population is of Indian descent and so language is not a barrier. Another advantage of Mauritius is the fact that permissions can be gotten within days. The latest equipment is vailable like cranes, HMI. The director only has to bring his camera along. In one year at least 10 Bollywood films are shot there.

Mauritius also offers clear underwater submarine shoots through lagoons and corals. As far as accomodation is concerned mauritius has 120 hotels which have a lot of space that can be used for shooting. While the Mauritius government does not provide incentives hotels and airlines working togethe4r offer specfial packages. Speaking to Bappoo added that Island Filmworks is intersted in doing co-productions for television serials and telefilms. However due to the limited budgets Indian television producers are still hesitant about shooting there.

One country that is new as far as attracting Bollywood is concerned is South Africa. The country's consulate general Peter Cozier pointed out that Hollywood has used it for shoots. Many European ad agencies have also utlised South Africas particularly Cape Town duie its vast open spaces. That kind of locale is difficult to get in Europe as the continent is compact.

Last year the South African tourism Board had takene members from the Indian film and television guild to South Africa. The response was encouraging. There are at least two films in the pipeline and the only thing to be finalised is the budget. The South African government will give a 15 per cent tax rebate to a film which spends at least Rs. 35 million in the country.

He noted that houses could be got on rent at reasonable rates through film offices. An adm for HP Petroleum where the man cannot push a rock but the car can was shot in Shot Africa. The man who did the shoot said that while the permits were easy to obtain and the hotels reasonable the equipment to shoot had been expensive to procure.

As far as Indian locales are concerned a representative of the HRH Group of Hotels which is a heritage hotel chain in Rajasthan pointed out that one of the attractions in the state is the Udaipur lake which gives a strong feeling of romance. That is how the hotel chain was able to help organise actress Raveena Tandon's wedding. Speaking to the representative said that the hotel chain has also tied up with MTV to help the music broadcaster take advantage of the locale for its wedding series. The HRH Group has seven hotels in Udaipur.

It also has the Gorbundh Palace in Jaiserlmer which with its surrounding sand dunes can help the filmmaker give viewers a strong sense of the past and history. The HRH Group can help organise for animals and help the producer get the necessary permits. The HRH Group has helped with films like Yaadein and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behtee Hain.

Another company that operates in Rajasthan is Palaces of India. This works with palaces in the state which have been converted into hotels. These are used for film shoots, ad shoots as well as lifestyle events like fashion shows. It also operates heritage hotels in Gujarat. A sequence in Lagaan was shot in the Vijay Vilas Palace in Kutch Gujarat. It had also helped with the shooting of a Sumo Vector ad.

A representative from the company Sumit Shah says that the company is talking to production houses like Balaji Teelfilms. It is also in talks with Sony for Jassi. While a deal has not been finalised the producers are reportedly looking for a heritage place for an episode.

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