Durban becomes ‘home away from home’ for Bollywood

2013-09-06 00:00

DURBAN and KwaZulu-Natal are a “home away from home” for those from the Indian sub-continent, making it the perfect location for producers and directors to film Bollywood movies.

That is the view of Mukesh Bhatt, South Africa India Film and Television Award (Saifta) jury member and head of the Producers Association of India, who was addressing members of the media at a press conference at the Beverley Hills Hotel in Umhlanga last night.

“It’s great to be in this lovely city called Durban, it is quite interesting and fascinating … and my appetite to look for locations all the time never seems to end,” said the legendary producer, who has filmed nine movies in SA.

“It is fitting that in the year that we are celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema, the government of Durban has come forward to strengthen the bonds between Durban and India. Saifta will be a historic moment … [and] once Bollywood comes here, nothing is going to stop us.”

Actress and producer Dia Mirza said that she always has strong feelings of affection for Durban as it was the place where she shot her very first film. “Every time I am here I go away with wonderful memories,” she added.

Mirza said that as a producer she was also looking forward to looking at the country with new eyes when it came to making films and that she was delighted to have the chance to strengthen industry ties between the two countries. “I am looking forward to embarking on the wonderful journey ahead,” she added.

Actors Sidharth Malhotre and Manish Paul, who is making his debut in Micky Virus, are both first-time visitors to Durban. Both are entranced by what they have seen and are hoping to return to the country to shoot films in the future.

Sadha Naidoo, chairperson of Tourism KZN, said that as the province was on the verge of establishing the KZN Film Commission, the Saiftas would help grow the local film industry and make it one of the best and most competitive in both South Africa and the world.

He added that the partnership forged with Kedar Gawde, of Celebrity Locker, and the director of Saifta, would also help the province to achieve its aims of growing the tourism industry.

“The growing populations in India and China are key targets for growing inbound tourism in KZN,” said Naidoo.

The glamorous Saifta ceremony will get under way with red carpet arrivals at the ICC in Durban at 5 pm tonight, ahead of the presentation of the awards to the best films and television productions, actors, actresses and directors in India and South Africa.

The event will feature dance numbers, choreographed by Geeta Kapoor, and fashion collections from Manish Malhotra, from India, and South Africans Haroun Hansrot and David Tlale.

Tickets are at Computicket.

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