Rengarajan Jaiprakash
Line Producer of War, Fighter

In South India, the actors are the aspirational level for the viewers. So they see the locations through the actors’ eyes. There’s a huge fan base. Mr. Nagarjuna and his heroine are dancing in the snow in Switzerland, and they feel as if they are there. That’s the aspiration level it used to be. From the producer’s point of view, going abroad saves a lot of money. If you’re shooting in India, if you’re doing a song sequence, you’ll be working with somewhere between 80 and 120 people. When you go abroad, the crew size drops to 30 or so. The crew gets compensated for that. When shooting in Europe during the summer, light is available for longer. So what you could finish here in 5–6 days, you finish there in 3 days. The latest trend is for the song to get over in 3 days. Earlier, it used to be four days. But now we’ve compressed it to three days. This is critical from both the standpoint of production and expenses.

Let’s take the example of the smallest movie going abroad for a couple of music videos. They’re going to spend about 100,000 euros, which is around 80 lakh rupees for an eight-day schedule. This is not small money in any business. So we’re giving business to hotels and transportation, and we’re giving local people jobs.

I opened a company in Switzerland. That’s the first company I opened. It’s called All Around Globe. Ever since, we’ve done around 30 feature films, including a movie called Dhoom 3. We were the only guys to shoot on a dam for 5 days, which is Verzasca, near Locarno. We blocked the dam. They also had issues finding an airport so we got them to Zurich Airport free of charge. It was the first time in history that we shut down Zurich railway station. My Swiss crew had 150 people. The Indian crew was about 90 people from YRF. So we cut out the middle man. You don’t need to pay commissions to anyone.

For War, we filmed for eleven days across Portugal. We closed Praça do Comércio, which is the Taj Mahal for us in Portugal. We shut that down for 24 hours for this movie. Porto was built by the same person who built the Eiffel Tower. The bridge where Hrithik jumps off was closed (for the scene).

I was the first one to go to Portugal, in 2012. Just after Dhoom 3, I did a movie called Balupu (Telugu) with actors Tavi Teja and Shruti Hassan. Since then, I’ve done about 12 movies. People started looking at Portugal as a destination. So we had a group of 450 people from Miles (tourism company run by him) go to Portugal last year. Earlier, it used to be Spain-Portugal; now it’s Portugal-Spain. So it does make a lot of difference. Coming back to Switzerland, we promote the Zermatt region heavily. Ever since I started filming in Zermatt (even War was filmed there), a lot of Indians go there. Before I started, you couldn’t see a single Indian face. Everybody used to go to places like Mount Titlis. But now people have started coming to these places. In Switzerland, it’s difficult to find a place with no Indians. That’s the impact the films can make. And petrol cars are not permitted in Zermatt. You can walk, ride a horse-drawn chariot, or drive a battery-powered car.

The same dam was used for the James Bond movie Golden Eye—the jump he does. Till we filmed here, it was called the James Bond bungee. Now it’s known as the Dhoom 3 bungee. So when people are transiting from Italy to Switzerland, they go here, do their bungee, and get into Switzerland. So its created one more layer there.

If you go to the Zermatt railway station, you can see the videos being played. If you’ve watched War, the place where Tiger gets killed is supposed to be in Morocco. But the sequence was shot in Italy, in a place called Matera. It’s an imagination. So, I can’t really say where you film. In Dhoom 3, the entire movie took place in the US, but we shot the climax in Switzerland. So these are imaginary elements, but when you explain their value to the tourism board, they understand.

For Dhoom 3, we were locked in a situation, our pilot wasn’t available, and it was a Sunday. So we didn’t get permission. Because people are resting on that day, you can’t disturb them by flying a helicopter. So we had to shift the shooting to Monday. 

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