x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Capital strengthens its Bollywood credentials

Indian cinema is making its presence felt in the city, with the announcement of an art cinema festival and the completion of filming of a Bollywood comedy.

Lara Dutta, a Bollywood actress,  on the movie set of
Lara Dutta, a Bollywood actress, on the movie set of "Do Knot Disturb" at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Indian cinema is making its presence felt in the city, with the announcement of an art cinema festival and the completion of filming of a Bollywood comedy. Talmiz Ahmad, the Indian ambassador, yesterday announced that the Indian Embassy would showcase several art productions next month as part of the Cinemas of India Film Festival. It came as a star cast yesterday prepared to decamp to Dubai from Abu Dhabi after finishing scenes for Do Knot Disturb at the Emirates Palace hotel. Lara Dutta, a former Miss Universe, performed Beautiful Woman, a song from the movie, in the hotel's auditorium. Dutta plays a sultry Indian rock star and wore a rhinestone-studded black leather jacket, jeans tucked into knee-high boots and an American-flag T-shirt for the dance sequence. "I went to the Christina Aguilera concert to pick up some pointers," she said. Dutta will join her co-stars, such as Govinda, Sushmita Sen and Sohail Khan, later this week in Dubai to continue shooting the song-and-dance sequence on sand dunes. She said she had worked on dunes with the "daredevil Khan brothers", referring to her time in the emirate with actors Salman and Sohail Khan, who shot part of the film Partner at the Emirates Palace hotel a few years ago. Code Red, an Abu Dhabi-based production company, and Puja Films, an Indian film house, are working together to make three films that will be shot primarily in Abu Dhabi. Do Knot Disturb is the first, and the second is due to start filming at the end of the year. The Emirati production company has provided support - from lighting and transport including boats and helicopters - for the shoot, said its managing director, Saeel bin Rabbaa. "This is a tough but exciting experience for us all. We've worked with television and documentaries before but working with a feature film and with stars and setting up the scenes is very challenging. It is not like documentaries, where you shoot it as it is," he said. The production crew has worked an average of 12 hours a day since shooting began on Oct 18. Mr Rabbaa, who grew up watching Bollywood films in the 1970s and 1980s, said the fascination with Bollywood in the emirate has carried on, even with the new generation. "Now we see big posters of the stars everywhere, with everybody. There are lots of similarities in the language, architecture and day-to-day culture, which has only been strengthened by films," he said. "We are scouting now," said Mr Rabbaa, "My crew is going - from Sheikh Zayed mosque to Al Ain - everywhere." Vashu Bhagnani, producer of Puja Films said the film, parts of which will be shot in India, will cost an estimated US$10 million and is expected to be released in April. "We needed a hotel because that is the base of the story in Do Knot Disturb and we couldn't have asked for a better one. It does not compare to anything out there." The Cinemas of India festival will take place from Nov 2 to Nov 11 at the Indian Embassy. Critically acclaimed films such as Malayali film Gulmohar will be shown alongside Bollywood titles such as Veer-Zaara and Jodhaa Akbar. A number of UAE documentaries will also be shown. The directors of each film will be present during the festival, along with academics and experts who will hold seminars, Mr Ahmad said. "The films are a mere glimpse, a first introduction to contemporary India, and reach out to their old friends in the Emirates with scenarios and images of contemporary national challenges," he said. sbhattacharya@thenational.ae