Resort win from reel deal

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Tourism New Zealand is pinning high hopes on a new Bollywood movie due to shoot in Queenstown next month.

Indian films usually only shoot song sequences in NZ and rarely plug the country as a destination.

But the new film – with the oddly-spelt title I Hate Luv Storys – will be different, promises Tourism NZ’s Mum­bai-based Indian regional manager Kiran Nambiar.

NZ will be part of the plot, he pledges.

“It will be quite clearly established, for example with the use of existing signage, that this is Queenstown.”

A 15-minute overseas portion of the film was to have been shot in Switzerland until Nambiar cajoled Dharma Productions into switching to NZ – and specifically to the Wakatipu.

Shooting takes place between January 20-30 and up to 10 local crew will be hired, plus extras.

Nambiar, in town with production heads last week, says the $6 million film featuring two up-and-coming Bollywood stars should do a lot to persuade Indians to travel here.

Tourism NZ, which also subsidised an initial recce in August, will host about six Indian media people during the shoot.

The two movie leads will break from filming for a day to do tourist activities in front of those media.

Nambiar says Tourism NZ will also leverage off the film’s various cinema, DVD and TV launches from mid-2010. He expects about 150 million people to see the film over the next three years.

Executive producer Marijke deSouza says the movie is in the genre of romantic comedies which are rating well.
The two leads have good pedigrees. Female lead Sonam Kapoor is a “star child” in India – she’s a L’Oreal brand ambassador and her father is prominent actor Anil Kapoor, who starred in the multi Academy Award-­winning Slum­­­dog Millionaire last year.

And male lead Imran Khan is the nephew of top Indian actor Aamir Khan.

DeSouza is sure Queens­town’s scenery will strike a chord with moviegoers: “It’s picture-perfect, to say the least.”

She’s working with Christ­church-based line producer Uma Singh from Kumar (NZ) Ltd, which has assisted about 130 Bollywood films in this country.

Also helping out is Film Queenstown manager Kevin Jennings, while Queenstown Lakes District Council has waived location fees.

Scouting from sky

Bollywood movie producer Marijke deSouza (right) got the ultimate view of Queenstown while scouting for film locations last week.

Pictured with NZone tandem master Alex Pereira, the I Hate Luv Storys producer threw herself off a plane amid confirming the major Indian movie will be shot in Kingston, Glenorchy, Skippers Canyon, Queenstown Mall, Prime Restaurant and various lakeside spots next month.

NZone marketing boss Derek Melnick says DeSouza intends challenging the film’s leading lady Sonam Kapoor to a skydive when she arrives in the resort.

The movie will provide “significant growth” in Indian visitor numbers to Queenstown, Melnick says. “As a market, they really embrace adventure tourism and have become a very valuable customer base for us as they travel in our shoulder season.”