Filmmakers train their lens on Hyderabad’s iconic British Residency

Video production equipment kept outside the British Residency building as part of a Telugu period drama shoot.

Video production equipment kept outside the British Residency building as part of a Telugu period drama shoot. | Photo Credit: Shilpi Sampad

The 216-year-old British Residency, which was recently thrown open to visitors post restoration, seems to have caught the fancy of filmmakers here. A few scenes of the Kalyan Ram-starrer Devil are currently being filmed there and a couple of other production houses have also evinced interest in using the iconic property for movie shoots.

The sculpted pillars, ornate papier mache ceiling and oval ballrooms of the Darbar Hall inside can easily transport one to the colonial era, making it the perfect setting for a period drama like Devil, whose tagline is ‘The British Secret Agent’ alluding to the lead star’s role.

“This is the first film to be shot inside the building post renovation. Earlier, we used to give permission for the external side only. Devil’s schedule began on May 26 and is expected to be wrapped up by June 7. Last week, representatives of two other production houses had come for a recce of the site,” says a source at the University College for Women at Koti, which houses the Residency building.

The daily charges for a film shoot is ₹3 lakh inside the Darbar Hall and ₹1.5 lakh outside the structure. The revenue generated will be used for upkeep of the building, which was restored at a cost of ₹17 crore. “Maintenance requires a lot of money, and that is the reason we are giving it for film shoots,” explains the college public relations officer (PRO).

The building has been extensively used for film shoots over the years. For Nagarjuna’s Hello Brother (1994), the facade was presented as the High Court in the first frame, while dungeons in the basement were shown as a prison complex in the latter part of the movie.

Interested production houses apply for permission on the website of the Telangana State Film Development Corporation. “A single-window clearance system is in place. The application goes to three parties — the State archaeology department, the college and the New York-based World Monument Fund, which funded the restoration,” the PRO says.

A host of restrictions is imposed on the film crew. “When we give permission for shoots, we give them a list of do’s and don’t’s. They cannot drag things as that may cause scratches to the inlaid wood parquet floor. They need to put rubber pads beneath heavy equipment before lugging it around. In case of any damage, there is a provision where we have to raise an estimate and they will pay the fine,” says conservation architect on-site Lithish Wesley.

When the Residency is booked for a film shoot, visitors would be redirected to the interpretation centre and museum on the first floor through other entrances. “The footfall is just slowly picking up, so we have not had to turn away any visitor due to a film shoot. But, we do have provisions to walk them through alternative passages so that they can explore the Darbar Hall without any problem,” a college official adds.

There are also plans to allow wedding and pre-wedding shoots inside the Residency building to keep the revenue stream flowing freely, says a source. 

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 10:08:59 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/filmmakers-train-their-lens-on-hyderabads-iconic-british-residency/article65480510.ece