The broad roads of Australia, which were featured in the chase scene in ‘Nala Damayanthi,' also had an equally important role to play in ‘Thiruttu Payale.' The spotless roads were the conspiring grounds for Jeevan, the anti-hero of the film.

Scenic spots in Australia and the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland are not exotic anymore for Tamil cinema.

Films such as ‘Dhool,' ‘Minsara Kanna,' or more recently, ‘Kandhasamy' or ‘Villu' have nearly exhausted possible locations in the Alps. The Suriya-starrer ‘Ayan' took the road less travelled, with a few scenes and a song shot in Namibia. The recent ‘Madharasapattinam,' albeit a movie about colonial Madras, had a few of the significant scenes shot in London.

The soaring number of Tamil films produced is prompting foreign countries to take a keen look at the production schedules of filmmakers. Each country is offering unique facilities to rival their neighbours.

Australia's initiative

Australia, for example, has recently taken such a step. The country's opulent buildings that are frequently captured by the cameras of Tamil filmmakers will soon come at a much cheaper cost. To boost the number of shootings in their country, the Australian government has laid out attractive plans to lure filmmakers.

It has announced a draft legislation to expand the spectrum of tax cuts to boost foreign production of films in Australia. In a press release, the Acting High Commissioner of Australia to India, Lachlan Strahan, said: “this announcement will open the doors for many more Indian production companies to choose Australia as a preferred shooting destination”.

This would mean the government would reduce the minimum qualifying expenditure limit from $5 million to $500,000 for post-production, digital and visual effects works. The legislation will also remove the requirement for film companies to spend at least 70 per cent of the total production budget in Australia in order to qualify for the location offset. This is for projects with budget between $15 million to $50 million.

Even countries as small as Bermuda have jumped into the race and are aggressively marketing themselves as potential destinations for film shoots. The Government of Bermuda has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Film Federation of India (FFI) to encourage shoots in the island. “They have agreed to bear nearly 40 per cent of the expenses incurred by the Indian filmmakers in Bermuda. This would include boarding, lodging and shooting expenses,” explains FFI president L. Suresh.

Russia is all set to lure Indian film producers with its century-old film tradition and rich cultural heritage. The ‘Jeyam' Ravi-starrer ‘Dhaam Dhoom' had a major part shot in Russia. The Russian government considered the film as a promotional tool and cut down its tax and rental expenses to a great extent.

“Per day expense for film shooting involving 10 people in Moscow would cost somewhere around Rs.2 lakh. This is much cheaper compared to the cost involved in shooting in Europe,” said P.Thangappan, secretary, Indo-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

Still exotic?

Producers, however, say such subsidies do not make much difference in terms of cost-cutting. “The only advantage of shooting abroad is that we have the actors' call-sheet for months together without a break. That apart, we are not given any noticeable benefits from big countries,” says the Producers Council president Rama Narayanan.

Places like Malaysia and Singapore are affordable options as the lodging is much cheaper. “But it has become a same-old formula to shoot in popular foreign locations. We source the same foreign dancers for every song and it seems repetitive.”

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Roads & RailsSeptember 24, 2010