After years of filming scenes in New York, Bollywood is now outsourcing. According to a Greater Philadelphia Film Office spokesperson, an Indian film production team is currently using Philadelphia as a "stunt double" for a film set in the Big Apple:
The winner here, she says, is the city's economy:
"We're able to provide them with an American big city location that doubles very well for New York at a lower price. They're using local resources and paying for them and staying in local hotels and spending quite a lot of money here." [link]
While the Film Office has been mostly hush-hush about the film's details to avoid a "paparazzi blitz," the secret seems not all that carefully guarded. The film is an action flick starring John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, and Neil Nitin Mukesh, and its highly creative working title is "New York." Although production began in August, the Film Office only this week revealed word of the film's shooting in an effort to prevent the public from going on red alert over the dramatic scenes being shot over the weekend:
If you're walking in Center City this weekend, near 16th and Market streets, don't mind the FBI helicopters overhead or the sounds of gunfire.
"Don't be concerned, it's just a movie," said Sharon Pinkenson, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office....
Thus, the men shooting blanks are not "SWAT agents" and the helicopters will be made over to appear as FBI aircraft....
Saturday's shoot involves "SWAT agents," played by stuntmen, who shoot blanks in the vicinity of the building's roof, she said.
The [PNC Bank Building's] signs were changed last month to read "Federal Bureau of Investigation." [link]
Despite the Film Office's warning, at least one local blogger initially thought that Saturday's "helicopter duel" was the real thing:
I make it downtown to Temple’s center city campus, and the sidewalks near the buildings are all blocked off by caution tape. I look up, and there are two helicopters hovering overhead posed in what looks like a standoff. The helicopters had FBI printed in large lettering on the sides. Of course I assume the worst, but it turns out they were filming a scene for a movie. [link]
Bollywood previously dipped its toes in the outsourcing-to-Philadelphia waters with "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna," for which a number of New York-based scenes were shot in Philadelphia. And apparently, other Indian films will be shot in Philadelphia on the heels of this one. However, not everyone in town is thrilled that Bollywood has jumped on the "Philadelphia is the sixth borough" bandwagon:
It’s great that Philadelphia continues to be featured in films and television shows, but it would be nice if more films would incorporate Philadelphia into their plots (sort of municipal product placement) instead of being a stand in for the Big Apple. [link]
What do you think? Post your comments below.