By Shubha Singh
The Fiji islands are emerging as the latest hotspot for Indian films, with three movies, "3G", "Warning" and "Ammali Tumaali", being shot in the picturesque South Pacific island locales in less than a year.
Neil Nitin Mukesh's new film "3G" began shooting in Fiji in mid-May. It has been followed by Anubhav Sinha's new venture titled "Warning", which held its muhurat shot earlier this week in Nadi town.
Anubhav Sinha, who directed the Shah Rukh Khan produced movie "Ra One", has begun his debut movie as a producer without any major film stars. "Warning" is billed as a big-budget horror movie, which is being filmed in Fiji and New Zealand. It has already recorded a song by Bangladeshi pop singer James, who had sung the popular number 'Bheegi bheegi' in "Gangster - A Love Story".
After directing a superstar-studded film, Sinha has chosen not to have any known faces in his new film because he says that "Warning" is part of a horror franchise and its setting and story do not require big names. Sinha has already started working on the second of the series.
Fiji Islands has several advantages for film shooting aside from the measures undertaken by the Fiji government to attract film producers. It offers a variety of scenic locations from aquamarine seas, coral reefs and sandy beaches, lush tropical greenery and rocky hills, coconut groves and sugarcane fields together with a population of Indian origin, who number about 37 percent of its 900,000 population, for street scenes.
Captivated by the islands, Sinha tweeted: "Serene morning from my window on the first day of the shoot." Later in the day, he wrote: "Finally Warning shoot started. Awesome team. Feels so different on set in a Producer's role. Loving every bit of it."
The scenic beauty of Fiji provides a stark contrast for chilling horror films and both the films being currently shot in Fiji are horror films.
"3G" is described as a supernatural horror film. It has Neil starring opposite Sonal Chauhan and is co-directed by Sheershak Anand and Shantanu Ray Chibber.
The film is being shot in a 50-day shoot that involves some stunts and spine chilling sequences. Some of the film sequences have been shot in the luxurious Denarau beach resort and in Suva and Sigatoka town. One special scene has been shot on a lake surrounded by thick forest - a location that was made famous by "Anaconda", which was shot around that lake.
Neil tweeted about his experience with the shooting from Fiji, "3G - the movie is a horror! It reminds me of Gregory Peck's 'Omen', Harrison Ford's 'What Lies Beneath', Bruce Willis' 'Sixth Sense'. Horror is one genre I've always loved and wanted to do."
Tamil film "Ammali Tumaali", produced by Gemini Industries and Imaging, Chennai, was the first Indian film to be shot in Fiji Islands late last year.
Directed by K.S. Adhiyaman, "Ammali Tumaali" has actress and TV personality Swati Reddy with co-stars Shanthanu Bhagyaraj and Nakul Jaidev. The film is a love story involving three friends with a lot of local colour. The film was shot in Coimbatore, Andaman Islands and Fiji.
The producers of "Ammali Tumaali" were the first film company to utilise the special concessions offered by the government of Fiji for making commercial cinema in Fiji.
The Fiji government provides a 47 percent tax rebate to fully funded overseas film productions as a means to encourage film producers to use the enormous potential of the islands. The government expects that the use of Fiji locales in Bollywood films would generate more tourism for Fiji just as it did for New Zealand and Australia some years ago.