Friday, October 14, 2011

Bollywood Calling!

Published in the Economic Times on October 3, 2011
The FrankfurtRheinMain region in Germany could be a veritable treasure trove for Bollywood shooting location hunters, says Eisha Sarkar 
 Located in the heart of the country on the banks of the River Main and with the third busiest airport in Europe, Frankfurt is the commercial hub of Germany. With its excellent infrastructure, educational institutions, futuristic skyline and fantastic connectivity, Frankfurt has wooed a large number of students, pharmaceutical, biotech and clean-tech firms, financial institutions and IT companies from all over the world. And now, it's Bollywood's turn.
    "Since 2005 there is a 'Bollywood film tradition' at the Bergstrasse region of FrankfurtRheinMain (named
after the city of Frankfurt and the rivers Rhine and Main). Indian films such as Humraah-The Traitor and the Himesh Reshammiyastarrer Aap Kaa Surroor have been shot in the region," says Disha Shah, India
representative - FrankfurtRheinMain GmbH. The company actively markets the ‘numerous strengths’ of the FrankfurtRhein-Main region that stretches over parts of three states - Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria - as well as
the cities of Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Offenbach, Mainz, Darmstadt and Aschaffenburg.
    With a beautiful skyline, historical buildings, romantic vineyards, picturesque settings and rivers, the region has much to offer to Indian filmmakers who are constantly looking for unusual backdrops for colourful songand-dance sequences in their films. Shah notes, "The fact that the
region is compact and locations with different settings can be reached easily and in a very short span of time, makes the logistics part easier." That's something Indian filmmakers will look out for. Frankfurt is also the European centre for digital image processing and visual effects. Local post-production companies process all types of films, from advertising to animation to blockbusters. A large number of sound studios are available for professional music compositions and audio productions. Agencies such as the Indo-German Film Agency at Wirtschaftsförderung Bergstrasse, the regional business development agency, actively support Indian producers with location search, assistance with necessary permissions and also organise free location tours in the region. For Aap Ka Surroor, they even arranged to fly in autorickshaws from India for a sequence that required them to chase a BMW Mini in front of the Alte Oper music theatre in Frankfurt!
    While earlier, DVDs of Bollywood films (especially those of Shah Rukh Khan's) were sold in the markets in areas populated mainly by South Asians (there are 6,000 Indians in Frankfurt), now there are a growing number of cinema halls and television channels that screen Indian films. Also, by regularly participating at the Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival), Indian filmmakers have aroused the curiosity of German producers who are now seeking collaboration with their Indian counterparts. The FrankfurtRheinMain GmbH International Marketing of the Region is even sending a delegation to participate at the International Film Festival of India in Goa in November this year, to promote the region among Indian filmmakers.
    Co-operation between Indian and German filmmakers is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to 1925 when Indian solicitor Himansu Rai met German filmmaker Franz Osten in Munich and brought him over to the erstwhile Bombay to shoot Prem Sanyas - Die Leuchte Asiens-The Light of Asia. Rai, one of the pioneers of Indian cinema, later founded the Bombay Talkies studio. The current generation of Indian filmmakers, who are willing to explore new media and newer locations by cutting through cultural barriers, will once again be instrumental in forging closer celluloid ties with Germany.

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