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Academic on a mission to lure Bollywood

Leicester Mercury story, January 29

Tempting Bollywood film producers to shoot blockbusters in Leicestershire is a key aim of a trade mission to India.

University of Leicester part-time tutor Jaideep Mukherjee will visit Mumbai and Hyderabad on the week-long trip organised by Business Link for Leicestershire. He will also go to the film studios of Chennai to try to woo producers and directors.

Shooting films in Leicestershire could provide benefits for businesses which provide support services, such as catering, security, hotels, transport, dancers and extras.

Mr Mukherjee said he had "high hopes" for the mission. "We will hopefully raise the profile of the region, particularly considering that these films are very popular and heavily consumed in this region," he said.

Longer term benefits could flow if the films are successful. Some locations used for blockbuster films are now generating tourism opportunities.

Bollywood films shot in New Zealand and Scotland have led fans to visit the areas.

Mr Mukherjee said: "It's not just tourists from India, but Indians from all over the world."

One issue Mr Mukherjee, who will be working on behalf of East Midlands Screen Commission, believes he will come across is how expensive the UK is to film in compared to countries like Ireland which give tax breaks.

"That is not in our hands, but we will feed those opinions and findings onto the Government and the British Film Institute," he said.

The first Bollywood film to be shot entirely in Leicester, Is Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon? - What Shall I Name This Love? - was made in 2001. More than 60 extras and dancers were used, mostly young performers from Leicestershire.

Also among 16 East Midlands companies on the mission, which begins this weekend, are Narborough industrial textile products firm Formax UK and Cooke Optics, from Thurmaston.

Formax managing director Oliver Wessely said he hoped to find customers among India's wind turbine energy firms.

He said: "We export all over the world, with the exception of India, which is why this trade mission is a great opportunity."

Andy Gilcrist

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Last updated: 7 February 2003 10:55
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