Bollywood now eyeing Thailand locales

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Mumbai, Dec 8 (IANS) Bollywood's fascination with foreign locales is not new, but Indian filmmakers seem to have taken a fancy to shooting action movies in Thailand and say it works out cheaper as compared to Europe.

At least two dozen action-adventure films during the past two years have been shot in Thailand.

In fact, recently one couldn't take two steps in Bangkok without running into a Bollywood crew. Among them were the cast and crew of Nikhil Advani's "Chandni Chowk To China", Anthony D'Souza's directorial debut "Blue" and Suniel Shetty's "Loot".

Neil Nitin Mukesh, who has been shooting there for "Freeze", told IANS: "There was so much of Bollywood in Bangkok I was confused whether I was in Mumbai or Bangkok. We did a lot of heavy duty action scenes in Bangkok. I guess the atmosphere there is conducive to crackling and bone-cracking stunts."

A producer has to reportedly shell out about $1,000 per week to shoot in Bangkok, which is much cheaper than in Europe. In terms of airfare too, Thailand is nearer and therefore cheaper.

Is this an indication of geographical aptness or plain practical common sense?

Hansal Mehta thinks it's laziness and lack of imagination that propel all actioners to Bangkok.

Soham Shah, who shot his rugged adventure film "Luck" in South Africa, said: "I think thrillers are shot in places like Bangkok and Thailand because a crime action adventure film needs a dark dingy hectic atmosphere with shady bylanes and alleys.

"Bangkok gives a certain edge to a crime drama. Because it has a history of crime behind it whereas European countries like Switzerland with their green virgin locales lend themselves well to romance."

Director Kunal Kohli, who shot his romantic films "Hum Tum" and "Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic" in Europe, thinks it's all about economics.

"Action films cost a lot of money. So they anyway need cheaper locations with good infrastructure. You get that in Southeast Asia."

Echoing the same, Sanjay Gadhvi, who shot his actioner "Kidnap" in Mumbai but went to Bangkok for one crucial action scene, said: "Why Bangkok? I'll tell you. It's more economical. Shooting shifts for action films are far more expensive. So costs are cut through cheaper locations."

Added producer Bunty Walia: "South Asian countries have the look, manpower and the expertise to execute complicated action scenes at a comparatively cheaper rate. As for love stories, filmmakers need virginal beauty spots, imposing architecture and super outdoors. Understandably they head for Europe and Australia."

Walia is currently busy with his film "Lamhaa", which is being directed by Rahul Dholakia and stars Bipasha Basu and Sanjay Dutt.

Milan Luthria of "Kachche Dhaage" fame attributes the exodus for action to Southeast Asia to these factors.

"There are so many props required in an action film. There are cars, bikes, chopper and boats to ply and wreck. Action crews are far cheaper in South Africa and Southeast Asia. And since an action film needs a much bigger crew to be transported, the airfare to these countries is relatively cheaper.

"Regarding romance, European and Australian locales are prettier for love and the quality of light in these countries is best for close-ups and other intimate moments," said Luthira.

Anurag Basu's "Murder" was said to be the first film to be shot entirely in Bangkok. Other Hindi movies shot there include "Ek Ajnabee", "Zinda", "Family".

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