Shooting parts of films and certain songs in foreign locations is not new in Tollywood but filmmakers are now increasingly headed abroad for the entire filming process. A number of factors have given birth to this trend: low cost of production (as in most cases sets do not have to be erected), easy and quick permissions from authorities, shooting without many breaks and hiring limited number of unit members.
Talking about recent Telugu releases, films like Ninnu Kori, LIE, Fidaa and Paisa Vasool were mostly shot in foreign locations. While Ninnu Kori and LIE were shot in the US for 40 and 70 days respectively the Paisa Vasool team stayed and shot in Portugal for nearly 40 days.
“It’s very easy to get permission abroad when compared to Hyderabad. Over here, you have to apply for the permission and roam around offices and you also have to bribe. You put cameras at any location in Hyderabad for shooting, and you have to pay official charges,” says Kona Venkat, one of the producers of Ninnu Kori. “Forget shooting outdoors, I can’t even shoot a single scene in my own house as I have to take permission or bribe the police,” he adds.
Anil Sunkara, one of the producers of LIE says, “The biggest advantage of shooting in a foreign locale is that you can shoot smoothly without any worries. Here in India, you have to pay a minimum of one lakh per day for any place and also get permission from the police and other authorities, which is not a smooth process.”
In fact, to be able to shoot in most other countries one simply has to apply online, take a print out and reach the location. “If we shoot in
the US, we also get rewards as the local state governments there return 20 to 30 per cent of our money,” reveals Kona. “We spend nearly $2,50,000 in one state and get back 30 per cent of our money,” he says, adding that even the production cost reduces by a whopping 30 per cent as compared to home ground.
Echoing a similar sentiment for international locations, producer Anil adds: “If you follow the rules, it is very simple. We hired two policemen for a day when we shot at a traffic junction (in the US for LIE). We paid $1,000 for the same and they took care of the traffic, so we could continue shooting without any hurdles.”
A no-stress process
“If we go with limited crew, definitely there is an advantage. While shooting in Hyderabad, we have to hire hundreds of crew and take care of their breakfast, lunch, tea and snacks among many other things, which adds up to the cost. People also take breaks and work for a limited time over here. When we go abroad, we work differently and there are no breaks for artistes or technicians,” says Anand Prasad, producer of Paisa Vasool.
Anywhere but Hyderabad
He adds, “The day light is also longer, the work hours can be extended and it is easy to complete the film in fewer days.”
“We went with a 40-member team and completed the shoot in a very joyful atmosphere. As we all stayed at one place, it was easy to coordinate and the only thing on our minds was work. After returning from the US, we shot a couple of scenes in Hyderabad and I was surprised to see hundreds of people. I don’t know why we need so many, but that’s how it is here,” says Kona.
Another advantage, filmmakers feel, is that artistes and technicians can’t escape shooting by offering silly reasons for absenteism! “In India, they always have to attend a function or a family event,” Kona adds.
Interestingly, Chiranjeevi’s upcoming period drama, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, based on the life of freedom fighter Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy is also heading for a foreign location.
“A major part of the film shooting has been planned abroad as they want uninterrupted filming as well as security,” says a source. The story is based in a village called Uyyalawada in Kurnool district and the makers are in the process of replicating the entire village in a foreign location. Another film starring Nithiin, being directed by Krishna Chaitanya, is already underway in the US on a 45-day schedule.
According to a source, 90 percent of the scenes for Jr NTR -starrer Nannaku Prematho were also filmed in UK as the team wanted an uninterrupted and hassle-free shoot. Similarly, parts of Mahesh Babu’s 2015 film Srimanthudu were shot in Malaysia but in the final cut it was maintained that the entire movie had a Hyderabad backdrop.
Hyderabad is expensive!
As a matter of fact, Tollywood filmmakers are choosing different corners of the world and cities within India for long schedules because the local production cost is very high. So, an upcoming film that stars Bellamkonda Srinivas and Pooja Hegde is now being shot at Pollachi in Tamil Nadu as it is way cheaper than Hyderabad.
The makers have erected a humongous set there for a 15-day shoot. “We want windmills and more than that we need a place with a lot of greenery, so we prefer Pollachi,” says Abhishek Nama, the producer of the film, adding that shooting in the town is convenient as it results in a big difference in the production cost. “We can easily save 20 to 30 per cent of production cost as we have all facilities here,” adds Abhishek, who is spending nearly Rs 4 crore on the schedule and set. The same, he reveals, would cost Rs 7 crore in Hyderabad.
Clearly, rising expenses back home and complications with authorities have, in a way, forced Tollywood to look and shoot elsewhere!