Bollywood Royalty Descends on Berlin
Khan, Chopra in Town to Shoot "Don 2"
BERLIN -- Bollywood's favorite film stars, Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra, have arrived in Berlin along with 70 co-actors and behind-the-scenes helpers from India to begin shooting their latest movie, Don 2.
"It's a Bollywood version of Bond," the producers of the first major Indo- German film collaboration since 1925 said in a statement. "But Bond is the bad guy and his name is Don!"
The film to be directed by Farhan Akhtar -- full title Don 2 - The Chase Continues -- will be an action-packed sequel to the 2006 blockbuster Don: The Chase Begins Again, which was a remake of the 1978 Indian cult film Don.
Khan, more popularly known as "King Khan," is back as Don, "the smartest, smoothest gangster in the Asian drug world ... criminal but good-hearted and a heart-breaker," according to producers.
The Bollywood heartthrob, who was ranked among the world's 50 most important people by Newsweek magazine and voted Asian Hero by Time, said his character was "very beautiful behind the dark exterior ... He's not a typical gangster."
Director Akhtar said he was inspired to make the film in Berlin when he visited with his family three years ago, although he had not given much thought to the script at that stage.
"When I was here, I was very taken by the architecture of the city. It is a city that represented to me a new world," he said at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.
For him, producing a Bollywood film in the German capital was a "great way to showcase this city to an Indian audience".
German producer Mathias Schwerbrock, who founded Film Base Berlin and is co-producing Don 2 with Bollywood's Ritesh Sidhwani, said the film would be seen by 500 million in India.
"This is something special for a German producer," he said. "I'm happy that Bollywood came to Berlin," he added.
Some of Berlin's most famous tourist attractions such as the Brandenburg Gate, the East Side Gallery -- a painted section of the Berlin Wall -- and the Olympic Stadium which Hitler had built for the 1936 Summer Olympics will form a background for the star-studded movie with a budget of 12 million euros ($16.70 million).
Akhtar said that the western filming location did not mean that Don 2 would become the "Diet Coke" of Hindi films, a kind of "Bollywood Light," but that it would be a full-on, all-singing, all-dancing "big mainstream Bollywood movie."
Nevertheless, Khan said the whole cast saw Berlin as "a character of the film."
The actor, who has won 14 Filmfare awards to date, said film played an important role in Indian culture and that "a lot of it is done with wanting to reach the places" in the films. Hence his conviction Don 2 will lead to an influx of Indian tourists in the German capital.
"You don't know what you've got yourselves into," he told journalists. "We'll take over Berlin."
German investors, who include Berlin's airports and the several tourist companies, have pledged a total of one million euros for the film in the hope that the blockbuster will put Berlin on the map for Indians.
Burkhard Kieker, chief executive officer of visitBerlin, a tourist marketing company, said: "Don 2 will be our advertising campaign for India."
Producer Ritesh Sidhwani said the Hindi version of the film was scheduled for release in December 2011. It has not yet been decided whether the dubbed German version will be released then or at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012.