Singham Returns, Dilwale, Loot, Rangrezz
In India, because there is no one-window clearance and because there are many departments you have to seek permission from, it becomes very stressful.
For example, we had to shoot at Gateway of India for Singham Returns, but after 26/11 they have stopped giving permission, so I had to get special permission from the union shipping ministry in Delhi, which was a very tedious task. Similarly, if I need to shoot at the Mumbai airport, I have to get permission from the union aviation ministry. A very important issue we face in Mumbai is the supposed jurisdiction, where two sides of a road come under two different police stations. In such situations, securing permission to shoot becomes that much more difficult and that much more expensive.
For every shoot, in fact, we have to run around to various departments – RTO, police, municipality and so many others. The more departments and people you meet, the more you have to spend under the table.
If not for these issues, I don’t think we would need to go outside India to shoot because we are geographically blessed and have everything from blue seas to mountains and jungles to deserts. If you go to Mauritius, there is only blue sea. If you go to Switzerland, there is only snow-capped mountains and no sea. In India you have everything, but there are two issues you have to deal with getting permissions and managing crowds.
Northern India, for instance, is so star-struck that shooting becomes very difficult, and if you try to impose some discipline, the crowd can turn against you. Even if one person complains, the police can stall your shoot. And it’s always the production manager who gets arrested. Such things disrupt entire schedules, cause revenue losses and you could lose your star dates too. Comparatively, shooting in southern India is better because they have their own industry so they are not so star-stuck.
States like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are providing rebates on shoots, but due to various reasons you usually don’t get them. It’s always cheaper to shoot in Mumbai, because you save lakhs on airfare and hotel charges. But then all scripts can’t use Mumbai as the backdrop and you can’t shoot on sets as much because many of today’s stories demand real locations. If a script demands that you shoot in front of a police station, you can create the police station in a studio, but if it demands India Gate, you can’t create that, so you have to go to Delhi and shoot there.
Another problem aside from the multiple clearances is the lack of transparency. Currently, you just run from table to table and beg for approvals. There should be a system where if shooting is not allowed at a certain location, the answer is just ‘no’. That’s how it works abroad. There, if you are not allowed to shoot in a certain place, they will tell you clearly and well in advance.
I would say, if we all come together, we can make these things easier and work it out so that we don’t have to go outside and shoot.
When it comes to foreign locations, the advantage of shooting in Europe is that the summer days are longer, so you get more sunlight and, if your workers cooperate, you can finish shooting ahead of schedule. But abroad they also have rules that don’t allow you to work beyond a certain time. This doesn’t happen in India; our workers adjust.
Countries like Georgia, Bulgaria and Poland are also offering attractive rebates and such locations are definitely a visual treat, but the expense is always more because of the airfare and accommodation.
Sadly, countries like Fiji are not offering incentives any more because a lot of film production teams ruined their locations. This is one point I’d like to make – if a country is giving you rebates, it doesn’t mean you should misuse that welcome. We too need to change our attitude. Indians are very jugaadu, which doesn’t leave a good impression, and the next team that goes to shoot there has to bear the brunt of this.
I have been in the industry for almost 28 years and a lot of things have changed and improved with corporate studios coming in. The industry itself has become more organised. There is more clarity today when it comes to work. We have better infrastructure.
The film industry is something that provides joy and entertainment to millions, so if a film is shot in a particular location, the tourism of that place increases and revenues go up. We do so many positive things, but the government still doesn’t look at us as an industry. It took us so long just to get industry status. So everything is coming very late but
I believe things are now changing for
Things that need to change in India
1.We must have one-window clearance for permissions
2.Every state should offer rebates
3.States should showcase their best locations, and co-operate while