9/10/10

Kerala goes Hollywood!



Bakel fort


Kerala, the God's own country as labelled by the state's tourism promotion council, is not just a tourist's paradise anymore. The picturesque locations are not just pretty sights and refreshing vacation spots for the tourists, the state is gradually rising to stardom with many of the landscapes being featured in Bollywood movies. The trend of featuring locations in Kerala in Bollywood is thought to have bud when the acclaimed director from the south, Mani Ratnam, got the dubbed version of his movie Bombay in Tamil to Bollywood.


Bakel Fort in Kazargode, a monument which was never (to the knowledge of a movie buff) seen in any of the movies in Bollywood, thus became a 'celebrity' monument by getting featured in one of the songs in the movie- 'Tu hi re'. Even though the history of the fort dates back to the Perumal Age, it had to wait this long to be famous and it even got featured in a series of advertisements and various other South Indian movies later on.

Fort Kochi Streets
Other Bollywood movies in which Mani Ratnam has utilized the scenic beauty of the state are Dil Se and Raavan. In Dil Se, in the song 'Jiya Jale' featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, the backdrops kept on changing; from the beauty of Athirappally waterfalls and forests, and then through the enchanting backwaters of Alleppey. Might be because of the overwhelming appreciations which he got for magnifying the virgin beauty of Kerala through his movies, he decided to make Athirappally forests the backdrop for his latest movie Raavan. It is not just Mani Ratnam who is obsessed with the scenic beauty of Kerala, another ace director, Ram Gopal Varma chose Munnar, a beautiful hill station and a tourism hot spot in Kerala, for his movie Nishabd which had Amitabh Bachchan playing the lead. Another movie, starring the gorgeous Deepika Padukone and Farhan Akhtar, Karthik calling Karthik, also had glimpses of Fort Kochi, whose streets have the inheritance of Portuguese, Dutch and the British colonial era.

A scene from Cotton Mary
The tourism department in Kerala is upbeat with this trend and is planning to capitalize on it by promoting Kerala as an ideal location for movies; and they don't have any intentions on making this a local branding, instead, they are eying Hollywood itself! Starting from Cotton Mary in 1999, Kerala has been on the radars of foreign movie makers. The Tea estates’ scenic beauty was also captured in The Mistress of Spices (2005), which had Aiswarya Rai in the lead role, and the movie’s screenplay was by the much acclaimed Gurinder Chadha. The promotions done by the tourism department has so far created only a minor impact amongst the film making fraternity world over, but it did manage to win the hearts of Mark Ratering and crew. Mark, a Hollywood film maker came out with a horror thriller, Pirate’s Blood in 2008, three-fourth of which was shot in Athirappally and in the serene locations of Cherai beach. Unfortunately the movie failed to generate any impact in US box office, and so the scenic beauty of Kerala went unnoticed. More over it might have got a negative publicity as it had Sunny Leone playing one of the lead characters, who happens to be a well known porn star!
Hope it is high time that the tourism authority in Kerala adopts innovative means of promotions like in-film branding, better deals for film makers (like cheaper accommodation and facilities), and etc. Consumer brands do it, why not the tourism authority also does it? Since they have a much better product to offer- ‘The God’s own country’!



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