In the last four years, at least 18 big-budget foreign films that landed in the country to shoot had to go to neighbouring countries.

The reason for this is the lack of a single-window clearance in India, said Ravi Kottarakara, vice-president, Film Federation of India (FFI).

Speaking on the sidelines of the India International Film Tourism Conclave (IIFTC), he said the FFI had been asking for single-window clearances for Indian film producers as well.

“If the subject of the movie is the Army or defence, it takes at least six months to get clearance. Also, the government does not allow us to shoot near heritage monuments. How then can you showcase India as a tourist destination?” he said.

This is also why film shoots take place outside India. Many places in Southern France, Bermuda and the UK offer 30 per cent concession to filmmakers, Mr. Kottarakara said.

“Apart from the fact that producers and directors look for new locations and the assured presence of artistes 24x7, countries abroad offer us unfettered access to public spots, concessions in accommodation and transport and even cash incentives,” he said.

Many Tamil producers shoot songs in countries where even Bollywood has not gone to. According to Harshad Bhagwat, director, IIFTC, every second movie is shot abroad.

“Even small-budget Marathi, Bengali and Bhojpuri films have gone abroad to shoot song sequences,” he said. Such film shootings lead to an increase in tourist influx to these countries.

For instance, recently, after the success of the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Spain saw an increase of 60 per cent in number of tourists from India. The destination has also been included in popular tour packages, Mr. Bhagwat said.

Countries abroad offer Indian film producers various kinds of assistance — support for visas, single point of access and access to historic sites, among others.

However, producers are divided over the advantages of shooting a movie or song abroad. Producer-director S.A. Chandrasekhar said, though many countries offered economical options to shoot, his experience in Hong Kong was different.

“Though the tourism board helped, it cost me quite a bit to shoot just two reels,” he said.

Producer G.P. Vijay Kumar said IIFTC should scout for locations that are economical. Junior artistes are paid in foreign currency. This is more expensive than hiring artistes here, he said.

Cinematographer-director K.V. Anand said Korea and South America were yet to be explored by Indian producers. “Nowadays, even the common man appreciates cinematography. Directors too want to show exotic locales that have not been explored in other movies,” he said. 

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