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Durban may lose Bollywood movies

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Amitabh Bachchan lib


Both films boast a star-studded cast, including Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan. Picture: AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal

Durban - Bollywood film producer Gaurang Doshi has threatened to move the shoot location of two of his blockbusters to Australia after delays in obtaining government approval to film in Durban.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has blamed the delay on the processing of a rebate request, which it said was set at a higher percentage than usual and thus fell outside the department’s film guidelines.

DTI offices were also closed for the holidays but staff would work on Doshi’s application this week, said spokesman Sidwell Medupe.

“(We) are still considering the application and will get back to the relevant parties as soon as possible.”

But Doshi has already threatened to withdraw his application and is now considering filming Happy Anniversary and Aankhen 2, that were scheduled to be shot in Durban, in Australia.

Both films boast a star-studded cast, including Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan and his equally famous son, Abhishek, and daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai, who would have been making her much-anticipated comeback to the silver screen on Durban soil.

Javed Aboobaker, the South African producer and owner of Mindblowing Productions, the company responsible for securing the deal, said the production of the two films could see the injection of massive capital into the Durban film industry.

The films are expected to bring in at least R220 million to the city.

Doshi had his sights set on filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and on some of Durban’s major city streets.

But Durban would not see a cent and could possibly see more major film producers deterred from bringing their trade to local shores if the DTI delayed the process any longer, Aboobaker warned.

He said he was also facilitating several other major Bollywood movies, including Roi, which will star Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez, and is determined to keep them coming.

Sasha Nirmul, founder of Go-Big productions, a Durban film producing company, bemoaned the “intense” red tape around shooting on location in Durban, saying this would scare off local and international film-makers.

“Durban just has so much to offer in terms of location. The local landscape provides such variety in terms of setting, and locations can be transformed into almost anything,” she said.

“From the beaches to the nature reserves, townships and rural settings, Durban has the potential to fulfil a film producer’s every requirement with its architecture and people.”

Nirmul said that losing international producers would not only be an economic loss for the city, but also in terms of the contribution of artistic splendour to the world of film.

Aboobaker said he hoped the DTI would give Doshi the green light soon and all would go according to plan, with Durban making its major mark in the film industry next year. - Daily News

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