Bengali cinema going for classy foreign locales

Kolkata, Feb 13 (IANS) Exotic tourist spots of Southeast Asian countries are fast turning into favourite shooting destinations for Bengali cinema, thanks to cheaper costs.

Kolkata, Feb 13 (IANS) Exotic tourist spots of Southeast Asian countries are fast turning into favourite shooting destinations for Bengali cinema, thanks to cheaper costs.

Shooting on the alluring sea beaches of Pattaya or the fascinating locations of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have become a popular trend among Bengali movie directors, who seem to be preferring foreign destinations over local ones like Goa and Kerala.

Over the past few years, the song sequences of various films, including the latest 'Amanush', 'Ley Chakka', 'Mon Mane Nah', 'Bolo Na Tumi Amar', 'Wanted' and 'Josh', have been shot in different Southeast Asian countries.

Some of the directors and the producers claim the reason behind this recent trend is mainly economic as shooting a song sequence in these nations is more cost-effective than shooting in India.

'Actually, the cost of shooting a song sequence in Bangkok or Thailand is much less than shooting in Goa or some other place in the country,' Mahendra Soni, director, Shree Venkatesh Films, told IANS.

Shree Venkatesh Films is one of the most renowned film production houses in West Bengal.

Soni said: 'Shooting two songs in South Asian countries costs near about Rs.10 lakh. But if the same songs are shot in Goa or Kerala, the cost will go up to Rs.20 lakh.

'Shooting in foreign countries can be done with a small unit whereas if you shoot in Goa or Kerala you will need more people.'

Most of the films produced by Shree Venkatesh Films have song sequences shot in exotic locales of Southeast Asian countries and even Europe.

Renowned filmmaker Prabhat Ray said: 'Although I have never shot any of my films abroad, it is true that various song sequences and certain portions of Bengali films are being shot at foreign locations.'

Filmmakers and producers are also attracted by various incentives and packages provided by tourist departments and numerous agencies of South Asian countries. The easy availability of professional agencies in these countries also solves most of the hazards of shooting.

'Two main reasons behind this trend is the glossy background for the film and cost effectiveness as tourist departments of these countries provide incentives and packages,' said Prabhat.

The saving on cost and the screen magic of the exotic locations of foreign countries have become so popular among the Bengali producers and directors that they are even shooting 30 to 40 percent of their films away from home.

A sizeable portion of hit Bengali movies like 'Hitlist', 'Poran Jaye Jolia Re' and 'Bye Bye Bangkok' have been shot in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

A lustrous foreign locale also helps in attracting the rural and semi-urban crowd to the theatres.

'The visual treat gives such movies an edge over other celluloid ventures,' actor Arijit Dutta told IANS.

But there is still a section of directors that feels that the demand of the script and the story is the main reason behind preferring a foreign set.

'I have shot 'Tintorettor Jishu' and 'Hitlist' in Hongkong and Kuala Lumpur as the script and the story demanded that,' said renowned director Sandip Ray.

'Tintorettor Jishu' is a story written by Satyajit Ray on the adventures of Feluda. Almost 40 percent of the film was shot in Hongkong.

'I had to shoot my movie 'Bye Bye Bangkok' due to the script's demand. Bangkok is in the title of the movie so I had to shoot it there,' said director Aniket Chattopadhyay.

(Pradipta Tapadar can be contacted at [email protected])

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