New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Spain is seeking to leverage on the sucess of the Bollywood hit 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' to promote the country associated with bull fights and flamenco dancing as many of the dramatic scenes in the film are tempting Indians to experience it in real life.
The Tourism Office of Spain, which saw around 75,000 visitors from India last year, was quick to spot the opportunity during the making of the film that's raking in big bucks at the box office now.
'The theme of the movie was about a holiday in Spain. We saw it fits with the storyline and we collaborated with the producers of the film,' Madhu Saliankar, market analyst at Tourism of Spain Mumbai, told IANS over phone.
Directed by Zoya Akhtar, the film is about three friends - played by Abhay Deol, Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar, who take off for on an extended, adventurous bachelors' party in Spain. The trio undertakes a picturesque road journey to the cities of Costa Brava, Seville and Pamplona to try out an adventure sport of each person's choice, and they also make time for the Tomatino festival in Bunyol.
The deep sea diving, sky diving and the dangerous running with the bulls have been captured beautifully in the film, tempting the viewers to fly there and experience it in real life.
The team of 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' stayed in Spain for about two and a half months to shoot the film and the Tomatina festival was re-created for the shoot in Bunyol, Valencia, Spain.
Producer Ritesh Sidhwani told IANS: 'To recreate the Tomatina festival, we had to call for some 16 tonnes of tomatoes from Portugal as the tomatoes in Spain were not ripe.'
For the scene, 24 tonnes of tomato puree were used and it was shot in the same location where the festival actually takes place on the last Wednesday of August.
'We had to shut the town down. The residents of Bunyol were extremely sweet and in turn they celebrated Tomatina twice last year...once for Spain and once for India,' said Zoya.
Saliankar says being a government body it doesn't associate with commercial ventures.
'This is an exception for the storyline of the film. We don't associate with any commercial venture unless we don't see a fit. Movie-making is a commercial job and we don't give monetary support to a film.
'We have a marketing tie-up with 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' to promote Spain along with the film. If you have seen the TV promos, you would have seen that we are promoting the destination with the film,' said Saliankar, adding the Tourism Office of Spain was established here about a year ago.
Right now there are no direct flights to Spain, and 'we have been made to understand that Indian carriers are interested in starting the service'.
But it hasn't stopped people from thronging the country. Last year approximately 75,000 people travelled to Spain, said Saliankar, adding 'the most popular places are Barcelona and Madrid. We have evolved travellers who know about the place and they don't come for the three-nights and four days kind of thing. They stay for about eight-nine days'.
Bollywood films have always been an ideal tool to promote a new foreign destination among Indians.
Filmmaker Yash Chopra popularised Switzerland by shooting in the Alps for 15 years and the country honoured him by renaming one of their lakes as 'Chopra Lake'.
New Zealand noticed a boost in the tourist footfall after the release of 'I Hate Luv Storys' last year, which was shot in part in the Wakatipu, said a report in Otago Daily Times. Tourism New Zealand research revealed 30,000 Indian travellers visited the country in the year to May 2011, which is 13 percent more than last year.
Even Abbas-Mastan's 'Players' has been extensively shot in New Zealand. On his recent trip to India, Prime Minister John Key visited the sets of 'Players' and signed a film co-production agreement that is expected to encourage Indian filmmakers to shoot in the country and also attract tourists.
Rakesh Roshan's 2000 release 'Kaho Na Pyar Hai' was also shot in New Zealand. Soon after the release, tourist footfalls went up four times. Not only that, about 150 other Bollywood productions explored the destination after the release of the Hrithik-starrer.
No wonder the Singapore Tourism Board collaborated with Roshan's Filmkraft Production to shoot 60 percent of 'Krissh' in Singapore. The country receives about nearly 500,000 Indian tourists a year. Hong Kong, Australia, the Netherlands and British tourism boards in association with local film development councils are all working out strategies to attract Indian film producers.
The UN's Madrid-based World Tourism Organisation estimates that by 2020, some 50 million Indians will be taking foreign holidays each year.
(Arpana can be contacted at [email protected])