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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bollywood Increases Swiss Economy

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS)

Switerzland is pitching for regional Indian cinema, riding on the fad among Bollywood filmmakers to use its Alpine setting as backdrop for their dream sequences - from decades-old “Sangam” to the more recent “Mujhse Dosti Karogi”.

The country’s tourism industry has started working closely with an organisation called the Film Location Switzerland to attract regional Indian filmmakers from Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali cinema.

“Bollywood has been a big draw for us. Swiss tourism now sees regional Indian cinema as a major business opportunity - not for revenues alone, but also to promote our tourism industry,” Swiss Ambassador to India Philippe Welti told IANS.

According to Ashish Saran, general manager for Switzerland Destination Marketing, the country’s public-private initiative to promote tourism, song sequences for some 15-20 Indian films are shot each year with the pristine settings of the Alps for backdrop.
“Yes, the cost of living in Switzerland is high. But filmmakers don’t feel the pinch. We offer all facilities for them in package deals. Technical help, shooting equipment, or scouts to fix locales are all available in plenty,” Saran told IANS.
“Hindi films like ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Kabhi Khushi Khabhi Gham’, ‘Mujhse Dosti Karogi’, have all presented Switzerland in a fresh light to Indian tourists.”

In the past, the Swiss government has honored Indian filmmakers like Yash Chopra for popularising the country, while the Bollywood theme night during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos in January has been a major draw for several years.

But what about competition from countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Britain or Turkey that are all vying for a share of this market? Swiss officials see no threat.

“Those who are exposed to the beauty of our Alps will still go to Switzerland,” said Welti. “So we do not see much of a threat from other countries. We still have many Indian movies makers going to Switzerland for shoots.”

India produces some 1,000 films every year, the largest for any country. Estimates suggest that more than 200 Bollywood films, or the song sequences in them, have been shot in Switzerland over several decades.

A recent study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and global consultancy KPMG valued revenues for the Indian film industry at $2.11 billion, and projected the annual growth at 9.1 percent till 2013.

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