Indo-Asian News ServiceMumbai, (IANS) Farhan Akhtar’s new film “Don” – shot in the picturesque locales of Malaysia – will only make the country the next hot destination for Bollywood.
Many Indian producers are believed to be toying with the idea of shooting in Malaysia instead of setting their song-and-dance sequences in the West, which can burn a hole in their pockets.
“The Indian film industry has augmented Malaysia’s image as a popular tourist destination. These films are an ideal platform to showcase our country’s myriad natural and man-made attractions,” said Manoharan, director Tourism Malaysia, India.
Malaysia has been a pet locale with Tamil filmmakers, and some Tamil actors like Ajit are adored by the people of Indian origin there.
But Bollywood filmmakers are just beginning to explore Malaysia.
Some of the Bollywood films shot in the country include “One Two Ka Four”, “Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin”, “Humraaz”, and “Jurm”. More recently Karan Johar shot a song sequence with Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji for “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna”.
“Since Bollywood is in great demand it is imperative for us to be selective and objective in order to gauge in real terms the statistical impact of this marketing tool,” Manoharan said.
The destination is not only popular with top filmmakers but television producers as well. Sony TV’s ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin’ was shot in Malaysia.
A number of Malaysian hotels have established contact with travel agencies close to Bollywood filmmakers. Legend Hotel Group was among the first few to have realised the business potential.
“The government authority has a single window clearance for processing applications for shooting in Malaysia.”
Efforts are being made to encourage private-public participation while promoting Malaysia as a preferred location shoot the world over. Special incentives and discounts are provided to Indian producers.
“Private tour operators, hoteliers and airlines are also offering special deals and discounts to Indian filmmakers on a case-to-case basis.”
“Kuala Lumpur, Putrayajaya, Langkawi, Genting Highlands and Sunway Lagoon are some of the preferred destinations with Indian filmmakers,” said Manoharan.
Malaysia’s connection with Bollywood may be new, but its Hollywood connection goes way back to the 1950s when musical hit “South Pacific” (1958) was partly shot there.
The scene where Juanita Hall sings “Happy talk” to her screen daughter France Nguyen was filmed in the beautiful island of Tioman in the late 1950s.
In the 1970s, “Sandokan” an Italian adventure epic filmed in Malaysia became a major commercial success in Europe.
In 1999, 20th Century Fox, the well-known US studio, chose Malaysia for on-site filming of its $80 million mega movie “Anna And The King” in Penang, Langkawi and Perak.
In early 2002, Malaysia’s own ex-James Bond girl Michelle Yeoh filmed part of her action-packed movie “The Touch”, a romantic adventure thriller at the imposing Cathay Hotel in Penang.
However right now the spotlight is on India and the Malaysian government is offering lucrative deals to filmmakers.
“India is among the top 10 potential markets for Tourism Malaysia, the Indian arrivals reached 225,789 for the year 2005, with a target of 350,000 by the end of the golden anniversary year 2007.
“Malaysia’s role and involvement with the Indian film industry is not restricted to location shoots. It had played host to the 2001 India International Film Awards and would host the Global Indian Film Awards this year,” Manoharan added.