Mumbai as film destination is Passé!
By ANJALI NAURIYAL
Uttarakhand is sitting on a cash cow as far as exotic locations, amazing weather conditions and hard working human resources. This fact gains in significance as Mumbai as a filming destination is Passé. Mumbai today is overworked, overcrowded and overexposed. The infrastructure of the city is challenged in such a way that it is prohibitively expensive to shoot films in Mumbai and novelty, as well as authenticity, is missing. As a result, filmmakers from Mumbai have been looking at alternative locations for a long time. As compared to foreign climes, Uttarakhand can offer a shining alternative. But getting everything, including crew, from Mumbai does not help Uttarakhand in any way. What will help Uttarakhand is to set up a proper ‘Film Cooperative’ with help from banks and the government. Under the umbrella of the ‘Cooperative’, Uttarakhand should procure the cranes, cameras, trolleys, Jimmy Zips, Fly Cams, drones, generators, light boxes, vanity vans and the entire gamut of equipment. Every single bit of production infrastructure and equipment that is required should be available with the Cooperative and all these offered at discounted rates to filmmakers – discounts that are higher than those offered in Mumbai. This would be Chapter One of the preparation. Chapter Two would be when filmmakers begin to hire these at lower costs. Chapter Three would be that all these would be run by locally procured skilled crew, so that filmmakers do not have to bring them from Mumbai. This will help them save money that they would otherwise be forced to spend on freight, air and train tickets. Everything from supply of food and lights, jimmy zips, to Vanity Vans and generators, to even manpower would completely turn the table in Uttarakhand’s favour. Uttarakhand would benefit majorly as all the money that would have been spent in Mumbai would be spent locally. This would set the ball rolling. The people of Uttarakhand would benefit majorly because suddenly there would be a large number of jobs created by the Cooperative. The filmmakers would be happy, too, to get all these at lower costs. So, Uttarakhand can move towards a windfall situation. And once the word of mouth spreads, the next phase would be to attract regional films here, particularly the booming Punjabi, Haryanvi and Bhojpuri film and video makers. A breakthrough ad film on the beauty of shooting here, showcasing the plethora of advantages, may be created for marketing Uttarakhand across the country. The triumph would come when Uttarakhand would begin to attract the mega Tamil and Telugu filmmakers, etc., from the South, because suddenly it’s not a question of importing all the human resource and the equipment. This will create a ripple effect and help create a Cottage Industry of costumes, props, etc. And before you know it, Hollywood could be shooting here. This should be the plan. Uttarakhand is labour intensive. Approximately 30,000 new jobs would be created. And an entire revenue system would flow into the state. So, where is the impediment to all this? If the impediment is lack of knowledge we can learn. The state can set up an office to get research done. Things can be figured out. A body such as Prime Focus can be invited to set up post-production facilities here, so that filmmakers can edit alongside shooting. So, where is the problem? Apart from shortsightedness, there seems to be none. Uttarakhand’s fortunes can turn around in a day by taking these decisions. Merely calling filmmakers to shoot here is tantamount to stupidity. If a genuine system is set up people will come in. There is no dearth of outdoor locations. Creating indoor locations is not difficult. Taking up 30 acres of land and putting up a village well, an outdoor courtroom, outdoor police station and few other live sets can work like magic. A parallel system where young and old junior artistes and costumes designers can be trained would help create a thriving Cottage Industry. Moving ahead, Uttarakhand can see the dawn of a Major Industry. And finally link it all with Tourism! But a haphazard approach can ruin the prospects. Thinking that people will come by themselves and shoot, and Uttarakhand will benefit, is nothing short of being foolhardy. Tungnath (Chopta).
Dr.Anjali Nauriyal is veteran journalist, author, social worker and actor. Her book ‘Retelling of the Folk Ballads of Garhwal’ has become a regional best seller. As an actor she was last seen in a cameo in the film ‘PM Narendra Modi’.