I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.
I’m waiting in the wings for a conference where Indian producers debate the pros and cons of shooting abroad in countries such as Canada, United States and New York in particular, Switzerland, Australia, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. I want to hazard a guess that they will cite the storyline as the main reason.
Be that as it may, Indian cinema is good news for European and American tourism. Producers have their own reasons for shooting outside India. Karan Johar for example is a big New York fan so films such as Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna were shot in the Big Apple. Eros International regularly shoots in Europe because it is ‘international'.
The number of Indian films shot in London, Geneva, Cape Town, Brussels etc. restricts the term Indian Cinema. The story is Indian but locations where films are actually shot can be outside India. Producers know that there are millions of Indians who have dual citizenship.
This is the market producers are gunning for. It also includes people like me, visitors to the Indian culture. This is quite profitable for European, American and even South African tourism. There are so many films that are shot outside India it will be a futile attempt to list even a percentage of them.
Love Aaj Kal producer Saif Ali Khan and Dinesh Vijan
Boy meets girl in San Francisco. Jai (Saif Ali Khan) is an engineer and loves bridges such as the Golden Gate in San Francisco. Meera the girl (Deepika Padkone) wants to go back to India to restore old buildings.
The film is shot in such a way that you want to see the Golden Gate and also travel to London. The San Francisco Film Council realised the film’s benefits so it was involved in the film production, so was the United Kingdom Film Council.
There’s a scene where Meera comes out of an underground station. I’ve been in and out of the Oxford Circus tube station in London, so I smiled at that scene.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge producer Yash Chopra
Almost every article written about Dilwale mentions the opening scene where Chaudhary Baldev Singh (Amrish Puri) feeds pigeons in Trafalgar Square. The film has all the London tourist places such as houses of parliament and famous bridges.
Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) is a rich man’s (Anupam Kher) son who failed his exams in the family tradition of being losers. He goes to Europe with his friends before he starts taking care of the family business.
Simran, Baldev Singh’s daughter (Kajol) wants to go to Europe with her friends for a month before she goes to India to marry her father’s friend son.
She meets Raj on the train. They fall in Europe. They eventually go back to London to face the reality of their parents’ wishes. The film was shot in Switzerland so the Swiss Consulate in Bombay and the Swiss National Tourist Hotel in Geneva were involved.
Chalte Chalte producers Juhi Chawla, Shah Rukh Khan and director Azziz Mirza
Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) and Priya (Rani Mukherjee) are from different social backgrounds. Raj is so in love with her, he follows her to Greece. The person watching the movie cannot avoid being attracted to Athens, the white houses and the blue green ocean. That is good news for Greece. The scenery reminds me of Shirley Valentine, an English film.
Pardes producer Subhash Gai
Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan) was brought up by Kishorilal a kind distant relative (Amrish Puri) when his family died. Kishorilal sends him to India to assess an Indian girl Ganga (Mahima Choudray) for Rajiv, his American-born son (Apurva Agnihotri). Arjun praises Rajiv to Mahima although he knows that he is an alcoholic and has American mistresses. The film was shot in India and Vancouver.
Krrish, producer Rakesh Roshan
Krrish, produced and directed by Rakesh Roshan has a storyline set in both Mumbai and Singapore. A group of Indians living in Singapore go to India for some team building exercise. Priya, (Priyanka Chopra) a television reporter in Singapore falls in love with Krishna (Hrithik Roshan), a man with extraordinary powers including flying.
Her producer thinks it will be a great angle for the show back in Singapore. Rhekha gave an outstanding performance as Krishna’s grandmother.
There are however, producers and directors who have no intention of shooting outside India. They prefer capturing the beautiful images their country has to offer, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, people etc. Here are some of them.
Sooraaj Barjatya: his films include Vivah, Hum Aapke Hain Koun
Mani Ratnam: his films include Yuva, Guru (opening scene shot in Turkey), Raavan
Ram Gopal Verma: his films include Sarkar, Sakar Raj, Rann
Ashutosh Gowariker: his films include Swades, What’s Your Rashee, Jodhaa Akbar, Kheilen
Ritoparnu Ghosh: his films include Raincoat, Choker Bali