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It’s been more than four decades since Steven Spielberg landed in India to shoot sequences for Close Encounters of the Third Kind — he reportedly based the iconic design of the mother ship on an oil refinery he would see every day on his way to the set. But in the ensuing years, the country has struggled to establish itself as an international shooting destination. While there has been an uptick recently, with the likes of Life of Pi, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Hotel Mumbai shooting in the country, by and large India is not in the same league with well-established location sectors in Eastern Europe or Latin America. With a raft of fresh initiatives, however, India’s government is looking to change that.
The first step was cutting red tape. To that end, authorities in 2016 established the Film Facilitation Office with the aim "to streamline approvals for both foreign and local productions with a single window clearance system," according to FFO head Vikramjit Roy.
Soon after, the FFO became a member of the Association of Film Commissioners International, whose members include more than 300 commissions from 40 countries. That enables FFO to tap into AFCI’s professional development program to educate staff and participate in its flagship global event, Cineposium. "We have had interactions with leading global studios and producers to assess what is it that they require us to do to make India more film-friendly," says Roy. Responding to these demands, India in 2015 launched the F visa, or film visa, specifically meant for foreign cast and crew.
While India has yet to announce tax rebates and other incentives for foreign productions filming in the country — a policy reportedly is in the final stages — Roy’s current goal is to make the world aware of the versatility of Indian locales. "Every genre has a location in India, whether it’s adventure, romance, period epic, thriller, musical or action," he says. "You can come with a vision and leave with a film." Here’s a look at eight Indian locations that offer a range of options for international shoots.
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