x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Lights, camera … and stand by for Bollywood in Dubai

Following in the footsteps of Mission: Impossible, Dubai is in the running again as a movie set, this time for a Bollywood superhero sequel.

Pedestrians sit in front of a poster for 'Krrish'.
Pedestrians sit in front of a poster for 'Krrish'.

Talks are under way for the sequel to Bollywood's first major "superhero" film, Krrish, to be shot in Dubai, giving a much needed boost to the emirate's fledgling movie industry.

Krrish 2 would be the latest in a handful of blockbuster movies to be made in the UAE, the most recent being the fourth instalment of Mission: Impossible.

Dubai's production industry is estimated to have given a Dh200 million (US$54.4m) boost to the wider economy last year. This includes the total budget of all film and TV productions made in the emirate, plus the "multiplier effect" of associated services such as hotel rooms and catering.

The production of Krrish 2 in Dubai would give a further boost to the emirate's film industry, which has already seen increased activity because of unrest elsewhere in the region, says Jamal al Sharif, the managing director of Dubai Media City and Dubai Studio City.

The first Krrish movie, released in 2006, sets out how the lead character Krishna inherits "superpowers" from his father. The sequel is rumoured to star the Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan.

The director and producers of the film have been in Dubai to scout for locations, says Mr al Sharif.

Mr al Sharif oversees Location Approval Services, which handles requests for films and TV commercials in Dubai. He says talks are under way to make Krrish 2 in Dubai.

"We're in initial talks … with the director and producer, and the production company in Dubai who is going to be handling them," he adds. "They came and met with us about two weeks back.

"They're planning to be here for about four months. They're looking into scouting [for locations] right now. They're talking about big budgets."

Mr al Sharif says up to 500 crew members will work on the film in Dubai if negotiations are successful, with the shoot starting in October. He did not immediately specify whether the negotiations were for all or part of the film to be made in Dubai.

Two other senior media executives based in the UAE confirmed negotiations over making Krrish 2 in the emirate had taken place.

Several big-budget movies have been made in the UAE, including The Kingdom, Syriana, and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which stars Tom Cruise.

Mr al Sharif says there has been a rise in the number of requests to shoot films and TV productions in Dubai, which he attributed partly to the regional unrest. More than 100 requests have been made in the past month, the highest number since 2008, he says.

"There is an increase on the number of productions happening in town, probably because of the regional situation," he says. "Some TV programmes have been directed to be shot in Dubai, which were going to take place in other Arab countries."

bflanagan@thenational.ae