Durban - Bollywood’s glitz and glamour is coming to town with two movies being filmed in and around Durban.

Better yet, fans will get the chance to see some of Bollywood’s screen idols up close during filming in the city in April. The locations will be announced daily on a local radio station to allow fans to watch the action.

Renowned Indian producer Gaurang Doshi was given the green light this week to begin the filming of Happy Anniversary, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, his son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The film is being touted as Rai Bachchan’s much anticipated comeback to the big screen after the birth of her daughter.

The second movie to be filmed is Aankhen 2, featuring Bollywood beauty Priyanka Chopra.

Javed Aboobaker, South African producer and the owner of Mind Blowing Productions, which secured the film deals, is excited about seeing his home city showcased internationally.

The films are also expected to inject an estimated R220 million into the province.

“Everyone came to the party. A contract regarding the foreign film incentive programme was signed by the minister in the Department of Trade and Industry this week. Everything is going ahead. The producer is coming on January 25 to do a final recce of locations. Filming, which was due to start this week, has been pushed to April. It is an exciting time,” said Aboobaker.

The Sunday Tribune first reported on the delay in filming last month, when the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) delayed the production of the two films, despite applications being made months before.

The delay is believed to be the result of an increased foreign film incentive programme, which was introduced by the DTI in 2008. The incentive programme rewards foreign producers with a rebate that is a percentage of the film’s budget for filming in the country. Producers of the two films requested a slightly higher incentive, which was then approved.

Aboobaker said Rai Bachchan and Abishek Bachchan will travel to Durban first, followed by Amitabh Bachchan in the first week of April.

“They will be in Durban for 85 days for the filming of the first movie. They will be staying in uMhlanga during filming, but their exact location cannot be divulged. The celebs will be in Durban for 55 days following that for the filming of the second movie. They will be shooting all over the province, including the KZN Midlands, the Durban CBD and Suncoast Casino,” Aboobaker said.

“I know the producer very well and encouraged him to shoot his films in Durban. I was born here and wanted to give back to my city. Cape Town is so overexposed as countless movies have been filmed there, but the beauty of Durban has yet to be showcased. Our rich Indian culture also needs to be shown.

”That is aside from the cash injection into the province. It will also catapult Durban internationally as the media follows the Bachchan family wherever they go in the world. That media will be in Durban during filming, providing free publicity for the city.”

Aboobaker said he had plans for more films to be shot in Durban, including Roi, which will star Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez.

Durban is becoming a popular destination for Indian film-makers. The Tamil movie Singam 2, released last year and starring Suriya, Anushka Shetty, Hansika Motwani, Vivek and Santhanam was partly filmed in Durban before heading to Malaysia for further shooting.

Dhoom 2, featuring Rai Bachchan, Abishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra and Bipasha Basu, was also shot in and around Durban. [email protected]

Sunday Tribune