“With less red tape, filming in India has now become much more simplified and streamlined” | Hindi Movie News
“Our one-stop licensing pilot project in Maharashtra has been a great success”
In recent years, the government has taken several initiatives to facilitate filming in India. This includes the one-stop authorization system. During the session, Ravinder Bhakar, MD, National Film Development Corporation, said it made the process much easier. “In the sense that if you want to shoot on a monument of the Archaeological Survey of India, you don’t have to go to ASI, you can go to the Film Facilitation Office (FFO),” he said. -he explains.
The FFO also worked with states and central agencies to not only ensure timely clearances for filming, but also developed a grievance system. Ravinder added: “There was a need for such a system. Now we immediately connect to the state system and about 68 cases of such filmmakers have been resolved immediately. In addition to this, more than 50% of Indian states have a film policy in place and we have also developed a real-time incentive tracking system.
Saurabh Vijay, Maharashtra’s Cultural Affairs Secretary, said, “The Government of Maharashtra and our Film City Corporation have taken the initiative to introduce a one-stop filming pilot project which was implemented for Mumbai (in 2018 -19). What we’ve tried to do is streamline the police department, as well as other departments. About 2,000 requests have been successfully processed in this way.
He added, “Recently, the government of Maharashtra decided to extend this system statewide. This requires capacity building even at the district level, at the level of the collector’s office. We are now in the process of integrating them into the portal we have created. We have rich locations in Maharashtra – from beaches to forts, which are mentioned on the portal, which also has ASI. Recent examples of film shoots that took place here were Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (in 2019) and Shyam Benegal’s Mujib (in 2021-22). We also invite private actors – for example, if there is a good bungalow for filming, we try to put everything under the one-stop-shop system. He said the Maharashtra government was working on a filming facility policy and would consider concessions for film shoots at monuments.
Executive producers often say that when filmmakers visit cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, they prefer to film in iconic locations, however, Ravi Kottarakara, Secretary General of Film Federation of India (FFI) and South India Film Chamber of Commerce (SIFCC), pointed out that there is a gap between the type of locations filmmakers want to shoot and the type of locations offered on film cell websites. Calling these ‘postcard locations’, he said: ‘What we should be doing instead is taking an extensive series of photos and going through the different locations available. It could be a monument, it could be a road, it could even be a small gali – we should have pictures of everything. We should even have pictures of villages and small settlements. Filmmaker Jayarajan Rajasekharan Nair also pointed out, “Almost all monuments across the country have increased location fees. For filmmakers on a modest budget, it is very difficult to shoot in monuments because of such high prices. I encountered similar issues while filming in the Ajanta Ellora Caves of Maharashtra. I think a concession is necessary.
“There’s a plethora of great producers and animators here”
Kilian Kerwin, production manager, South Asia and Latin America at Los Angeles-based SK Global Entertainment – who was here filming the 2019 series Delhi Crime – said many of the difficulties encountered while filming in India were similar to what they faced in any other part of the world. He said: “The first thing you do as an outsider is associate with the right people on the inside. I needed help navigating through paperwork, finding locations. There is a plethora of excellent line producers, hosts, co-producers and scouts in Delhi. Like in any part of the world, you find the right people, and they make it easy for you, but yes, there were also guerrilla shootouts.
Recalling one incident, he said: ‘There were some things that happened, in a good way. For example, when we wanted a clear street, the AD just said something in Hindi and the whole neighborhood stepped aside for us to take our picture. This would never happen in New York or LA, people would give you a lewd gesture and probably try to spoil your shot for being mean. I think it’s the fascination with movie magic (in India) that people are willing to help from scratch.
“It’s no longer a nightmare to get permission from the railways to shoot”
Whether it’s Rajesh Khanna hanging from a jeep while serenading Sharmila Tagore traveling on a toy train in Darjeeling (Aradhana) or Shah Rukh Khan dancing to Chhaiyya Chhaiyya on top of a train (Dil Se), Indian films have always featured iconic train sequences. However, for foreign productions, filming in trains has always been a problem. In 2011, for example, the makers of the James Bond film Skyfall tried and failed to shoot a train sequence, after they couldn’t get clearance from Indian Railways. And so, the scene was shot in Turkey.
However, today Bond producers would find it much easier to shoot on an Indian train, officials say. Ravinder Bhakar, MD, NFDC – who had a long stint with railroads before joining as CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification in 2020 – said during the discussion: “When it comes to railroads , we go through the scenario, evaluate it, do the necessary formalities and a dedicated agent is there to facilitate the makers. The whole affair only takes two or three days. The Board of Railways has also published a comprehensive list of prices. So whether you want to shoot in the yard, in the coach or on the rig, there are prescribed guidelines; and the process is much simpler these days. You can also contact the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) to obtain permission from the Ministry of Railways.
Giving a comparison, filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda said: “I shot something in 2011 and it was a 30-day nightmare to get the permissions from the railways. However, in 2018, I got permission from the railways within seven hours for a shoot in Delhi. It got so fast.