Bollywood film on the job for NZ tourism
19 Jan 2011
Tourism in New Zealand stands to benefit from the spin off of another multi-million dollar Bollywood movie - an Indian remake of The Italian Job - that is currently being filmed in Wellington.
Players features A-list Indian actors Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor, and is the second major Bollywood movie to be filmed in New Zealand in less than two years.
I Hate Luv Storys, which also featured Sonam Kapoor, was shot in Queenstown last year and became an instant box office success rating as India’s 12th best net grossing movie of all time on opening day.
Now India’s top Bollywood film makers are back on New Zealand soil choosing the dramatic urban terrain of the country’s capital city for the legendary car chases of the Michael Caine classic.
The chase sequence of the British original of The Italian Job featured robbers driving Mini cars and was filmed in Turin, and a 2003 American remake was shot on location in Venice and Los Angeles.
Wellington is said to be "playing itself" in the Indian version and the varied terrain of the central city with its steep streets, leafy suburbs, dramatic coast and natural harbour will be on show to the world.
Players features New Zealand icons and even a couple communicating in Māori. Up to 600 Kiwi extras have been called in to take part in the film.
Place names like Auckland and Wellington will also be used in the movie, exposing New Zealand to an international audience of millions.
"It's going to be huge. It's not just the billion population in India back home, but also the Indian diaspora which is all over the world," said Nirang Desai, the film's line producer.
It is estimated that up to NZ$4 million of Bollywood money will be spent during filming in New Zealand, and Players could pave the way for even more films.
"I already have a few proposals lined up, people wanting to come," said Desai.
Wellington on show
Wellington film manager Delia Shanly said that while local extras and crew would be used in the film, the financial payoff for Wellington would come once Players was released in India.
"The silver screen is where people often see their dream locations. They [film producers] want Wellington to look great and gorgeous. We look forward to people seeing that and going, 'Oh my God, I have to go there'."
Local newspaper The Dominion Post has revealed a shooting schedule for the movie and says scenes will include a chase on the Wellington airport runway between a chopper-style motorcycle and a private jet.
Spectacular controlled explosions will be filmed by helicopter, and part of the city centre will be closed off for two weeks during the January film shoot.
Filming for Players will continue in Wellington and Auckland until mid-February.
The film is due to be released first in India in October 2011.
Indian rock star
Meanwhile another major Bollywood star is also in New Zealand this week.
Atif Aslam, who reportedly has a 1.6 billion following in India and is described as the "Enrique Iglesias of Bollywood", is playing a concert at the Logan Campbell centre in Auckland on Friday (21.1.11).
The concert marks the beginning of the rock star’s first Australasian tour, and Atif has pledged to donate ticket profits to support Oxfam’s work with survivors of last year’s devastating floods, which affected over 20 million people in his homeland.
Event director Omar Liaqat, who is responsible for bringing Atif to New Zealand, says fans will come from all over the country for the concert.
"We are fortunate to have such an icon to visit us in New Zealand for this show. Atif Aslam is the biggest pop rock icon of the Asian subcontinent.
"One of the reasons for attracting such a huge act is that he will inspire youth here in New Zealand to help the youth of less fortunate areas, such of those in Pakistan," Liagat said.
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