The India connection

Matt Damon and Julia Stiles on the run

Matt Damon and Julia Stiles on the run  

WHILE THE Chopras and Johars go globetrotting looking for exotic locations, the tables have turned with India finding space in the Hollywood blockbuster circuit. The opening sequences of The Bourne Supremacy, the sequel to 2002's smash hit about an amnesiac assassin, The Bourne Identity, are shot in Goa.

India has featured in English movies notably the Merchant Ivory productions and The Jewel in the Crown series.

The James Bond movie, Octopussy, showed a really bizarre India replete with elephants, snakes, palaces and Vijay Amritraj taking a wise-cracking Roger Moore for a spin in an auto rickshaw!

Exotic locations

Talking about locations, Tony Gilroy, who wrote the screenplay for Identity and Supremacy, said, "You want to go places and treat them like they're your environment. So it's not like we are in India, here's the Taj Mahal. Everything is street level, everything is very familiar."

The exotic locations in Identity (Paris, Zurich and Italy) played a major role in the film's success apart from the taut storyline and wonderfully nuanced performances by the lead pair - Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Franka Potente as the quirky Marie who leads Bourne from the dark shadowy world of Spy Vs Spy into the light. Identity ended with Bourne and Marie taking a breather in a seaside village in Greece. Supremacy starts two years later with the two enjoying a vacation in Goa.

"I had wanted to go there in the early '70s," says producer Frank Marshall. "It was one of those places on your radar in the late '60s and early '70s. Tony (Gilroy) did a little research and found that a lot of Europeans were still coming there. To shoot for two weeks in India took us about six months of preparation — and it was well worth it."

Production made their first headquarters at Sinquerim Beach in Northern Goa and over several days, they shot in and around the capital city of Panjim, twisting through the narrow streets in Bourne's jeep, with the rival assassin Kirill (played by Karl Urban) and camera in pursuit.

Goans were suitably amused when a short distance from the beach hotel, Bourne and Marie's jeep was jettisoned over a narrow bridge into the murky river below.

For the final leg of the production, the company moved south to Canacona, from where they travelled to the famed Palolem Beach to shoot Bourne and Marie's oceanside hideaway and the cafe where Bourne picks Marie up to flee. Inland, Goa's endless dirt roads provided the backdrop for the car chase.

"Of the places in the world where you could go and hide," says producer Patrick Crowley, "it just seemed to be a place where you could blend in. We talked about China, we talked about other places, but one of the cool things about Goa was there are a lot of young tourists, which makes it perfect for Jason and Marie — they don't stick out."

Logistically speaking

The bovine population that seems to capture the imagination of every tourist did not disappoint. As second unit director and veteran stunt coordinator Dan Bradley recalls, "It was the first time in my career we actually had a herd of oxen break through the lockup. We had to stop shooting and wait for them to walk across a pretty long bridge. There was a guy with a stick walking behind them... apparently he can get them to go but he's not really good at getting them to stop."

The film, starts off with the lush tropical palate and progressively gets colder and monochromatic as the action shifts from Goa to Berlin and Moscow.

So after Matt Damon and Franka Potente, who could we expect sipping chai at Charminar? Tom Cruise shooting Mission Impossible IV? Or would it be the luscious Angelina Jolie doing her tomb raider act? Watch this space!


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