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Rebecca on the overnight train from New Delhi to Bombay


With director/producer Rakesh Roshan, Filmcraft offices, Santa Cruze, Mumbail


Sir Edmund Hillary Street, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi


At Dev Anand's dubbing studios, Bandra, Mumbai

Rebecca Kunin

University of Auckland

Rebecca has now completed her Masters degree in Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of Auckland; she graduated in mid-2004. Her MA thesis, titled "Bollywood Abroad: The Bombay Film Industry 'on location' in New Zealand", traces the historical growth of Indian filmaking in New Zealand and examines "the complex cross-cultural encounters" that are taking place between the New Zealand and Indian film industries.

Bollywood in New Zealand

Fieldwork in Bombay and New Delhi, November – December 2003

The Asia:New Zealand-NZASIA Research Scholarship partially funded my month long research trip to India in late 2003. Since the early 90s, over 100 Indian crews have shot parts of their films/commercials and music videos in New Zealand. I wanted to investigate the following: factors that influence a filmmakers' decision to work in New Zealand; the pleasures and difficulties experienced by Indian crews who have shot here; how New Zealand and its filmmaking facilities are promoted inside India; and the future potential of the film relationship between the two countries.

The first part of my research, located in Bombay, consisted of interviews with filmmakers who had previously worked in New Zealand, and individuals who form an informal network promoting New Zealand and facilitating travel arrangements. I was fortunate to form a strong friendship with Jitendra Chacha (Jeet), a 'location consultant' who promotes New Zealand in Bombay. As business in India is often conducted through introduction, Jeet introduced me to many filmmakers and to the other members of the 'New Zealand' network in Bombay. I managed to collect 17 interviews over a period of 18 days, well beyond the number I had hoped to achieve.

My interview subjects included; high profile director/producer Rakesh Roshan (Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, 2000), stunt director Alan Amin, (Deewane, Baweja, 2000 & Main Prem Ki Diwani Houn, Barjatya, 2003) director K. Ravishankar (Kutch Tum Kaho Kutch Hum Kahen, 2002), producer P. Som Shekar (Daud,Verma, 1997), and Vinod Kumar from the Foundation for Promotion of Film Arts and Crafts. I met with several individuals from Rajshri Productions (Main Prem Ki Diwani Houn, Barjatya, 2003): production executive, Zaki Kashvi; spot boy, D. M. More; and production assistant, Siddhartha Y. Ghodeshwar. Members of the 'New Zealand network' included the following: location consultant Jitendra Chacha; Pranav Kapadia, Sales and Marketing Manager-India for Air New Zealand; Devanand from Travelmasters travel agency; Kiran Nambiar, Country Manager-India for Tourism NZ; and Pradip Madhavji, the newly appointed Honorary Consul of New Zealand in Mumbai.

In addition to helping arrange interviews, Jeet also took me to Mehboob Studios (where I was able to observe a song shoot) and to Dev Anand's dubbing studio. Stunt director, Alan Amin, gave me a tour of Bombay's famous 'Film City' in the outlying suburb of Goregaon. The extensive grounds of Film City are often host to around 15 simultaneous film shoots, which use elaborate outdoor sets and massive indoor studios. I accompanied Alan for two days while he directed fight sequences at Film City. The time spent 'on set' exposed me to the day-to-day working environment of the Bombay film industry. This provided a fresh perspective from which to analyse Indian crews shooting in international locations.

I also had the opportunity to observe the wider structures of the Bombay film industry by attending the International Film Festival-Mumbai (hosted by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI), and a Cine Mint conference on domestic and international film marketing. Speakers included directors Shekhar Kapur and Sudhir Mishra, actor/director Rahul Bose, and representatives from Switzerland, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The second part of my research consisted of four days in New Delhi visiting the New Zealand High Commission. Here I met and interviewed three very helpful people: Peter Hobbs, New Zealand's Trade Commissioner to India; Neera Arora, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise's (NZT&E) Trade Development Manager for film in India; and Alan Barry, Service Manager for the New Delhi Branch of the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS). These interviews were extremely helpful as they provided historical perspectives on policy formation, and insights into the future development of the film relationship between the two countries.