Indian films in New York create Bollywood-on-Hudson

Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:45pm EDT
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By Jui Chakravorty Das

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of moviegoers in India recognize the neon signs of Times Square as easily as the Taj Mahal, due to the growing popularity of "Bollywood" movies shot in the United States, particularly in New York.

By making movies in one of the world's most expensive cities, producers risk big losses but can score big rewards by appealing to India's fascination with foreign worlds.

Despite its high costs, New York, more than any city outside India, offers easy access to resources such as Indian extras, trained Indian dancers and Indian production teams, say experts on Bollywood, the $2 billion-a-year industry known for movies featuring elaborate music, costumes and sets.

The term Bollywood combines the names of India's commercial and Hindi film capital Bombay, now renamed Mumbai, and Hollywood, the global center of commercial movie production.

Such films have occasionally been made in cities such as Miami, Johannesburg and Sydney, but nine mainstream Bollywood movies have been shot in New York since 2003, eight of them since 2006 alone. Two more are in the offing.

That number is significant, given that the scripts are based on stories that could have just as easily been shot at home, experts say.

Coming this month from one of India's largest production houses is a movie titled "New York," which capitalizes on the city's instant recognizability, director Kabir Khan said.

"One shot of New York, and you know this is New York," he said.   Continued...