Song and dance about Alps

Songs, stilettos, saris Foreign locations are the thing to do for most Telugu movies

Songs, stilettos, saris Foreign locations are the thing to do for most Telugu movies  

Tilling the land and dancing in snow, the formula still holds good

Shooting abroad is not a new concept; it began decades ago in Telugu cinema but people really started noticing it in films like Love in Singapore, 47 Days and Padamati Sandhyaragam where 70 per cent of the story takes place there. But nowadays it has become imperative to shoot a film in a foreign location.

The hero and heroine could be tilling land in some rural area in Andhra but in the next scene you would find them singing and dancing in chiffons and sweaters in the Alps.

While producers with top stars fly across Europe, Australia, America and New Zealand, the lesser known stars and producers have to make do with Ooty, Hampi, Araku Valley etc.

Censor Board Member and journalist Prabhu says: “It was a prestige issue earlier to tell people that they are shooting abroad. But now the producers are yielding to the demands of the directors. Sometimes, the directors get the scene or a song deliberately written that way which facilitates them to take the foreign jaunt. Such scenes are rarely needed by the subject. It has become a fashion these days to go abroad for script writing. The script should be rich not the visuals or production values.”

Producer K.L. Narayana says that he shot Kshanam Kshanam in India “though we had top stars but for Tarun-starrer Ninne Istapadanu we went to Switzerland for the songs. It all depends on the subject. Travelling and shooting in Singapore is much easier than Ladakh because we can manage with 25 members abroad where as we have to utilise the full 150 crew members in India.” Apparently, according to the Union rules, the producer has to employ everyone from the 24crafts.

A production manager says: “A sum of Rs. 75 lakhs was spent for one song in Maharadhi. Now a crore is being spent for a pub set in Jalsa. A film producer will have to spend not less than Rs. 15 lakhs for a song on a set but he can finish the same song in Rs. 7 lakhs if shoots in Malaysia. Sometimes, there is wastage of money, for example Sneha, Ravi Teja and a bunch of dancers were flown to Germany for a mass number in Venki.”

A small budget producer describes the problems he faces, “There are certain hazards we got to face, the foremost being running around for permissions. To shoot in a railway station we got to give a Rs. 5 lakh bank guarantee and give an application one month before, after that you have to shell out anything between Rs. 15-20 lakhs.

Also if the shooting is scheduled tomorrow you run the risk of cancellation on security grounds if some VIP is coming. So we have to go to Ramoji Film City. At the airport you have to pay Rs. 15,000 per hour, Rs. 20,000 the second hour and Rs. 25,000 from the third hour onwards, also, one can shoot at certain timings.”

One of the biggest advantages of shooting on picturesque locations is that it breaks the monotony of sets and/or indoor shooting. But as film are getting slicker, big budgeted and new-found sophistication in production, distribution and marketing with the advent of corporate houses, Telugu cinema industry has hardly abandoned the formula film-making or its own unique brand of escapism.

Srinivas Raja who’s in the business of arranging shooting spots for producers says, “The film makers discuss with us what kind of song, the mood and backdrop will be canned and we suggest places accordingly. This agency arranged the entire paper work, custom clearance, equipment handling, helicopters, foreign dancers, accommodation and permissions.

My margin of profit is not very huge, but the agency gets a lot of publicity on account of this work. The artistes work in a tension-free atmosphere, without shuttling from one movie company to another unlike in India where they work on shift basis.

Distance is not a big deal, permission is granted immediately and the place is pollution free and no disturbing crowds.”


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