With the red carpet rolled out, celebrities trickling in, TV crews in attendance and fidgety security men pacing up and down, passing tourists were curious. What was going on?
When told that the “Indian State of Kerala is having a party,” one woman said excitedly: “Oh! I've been to Kerala... had a great time, it's just awesome.”
At the Saatchi Gallery in the fashionable Chelsea area, the “world premiere” of a film on Kerala to mark the launch of an international campaign to promote tourism in the State was on.
The early birds included Rolling Stones lead-singer Mick Jagger's daughter Jade Jagger, a former model and jewellery designer. “Kerala is a very interesting place, very spiritual. It's a very special place in India,” she said. She had visited it “several times.”
Then there was Kerala's own celebrity, Mohanlal, the film-star. “It's a great film. There's magic in it. Now I feel I've to go back to Kerala to discover it,” he said.
Also sighted were former England striker Gary Linekar and current 400-m Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu. Linekar said his model-presenter wife Daniele was telling him to visit Kerala. “It's a place you want to go.”
Kerala Tourism Director M. Sivasankar said: “Something in Kerala appeals to the visitors. Many… have had a self-discovering experience.”
The three-minute film, titled ‘Your Moment Is Waiting,' directed by Prakash Varma and featuring the Swedish-born model Miriam Ilorah, is based on the premise that Kerala has a profound effect on travellers. “Something” almost mystical “happens” to them, as V. Venu, Kerala's Tourism Secretary, put it.
Shot in and around Thekkady, Alappuzha, Munnar,Thalassery and Kannur in Kerala, it shows Illorah, playing a tourist, “drink in” the beauty of Kerala's landscape.
Swraj Paul, industrialist and a Labour peer, said he “loved” it. “It's tremendous and captures the spirit of Kerala.”
The film will be shown in cinemas across Britain along with Eat, Pray and Love, starring Julia Roberts and partly shot in India. It will be rolled out on YouTube. T.K. Harshan, chairman of Stark Communications, which conceived and scripted the film, said it went beyond the realm of a commercial ad in capturing the “soul of Kerala.” Dr. Venu said Britain was the largest market for Kerala Tourism. British tourists account for nearly half the international travellers to Kerala. “The State's nature-based experiences are a huge draw for British travellers seeking the more intimate experience. Baby-boomers… are also attracted to Ayurveda in Kerala,” he said, before rushing off to receive the latest celebrity.