Spain woos Bollywood to boost tourism
SPAIN is on a mission to coax Indian movie-makers to use its colourful fiestas and historic monuments as settings for their films.
This weekend, capital city Madrid will host the annual International Indian Film Academy awards, dubbed the "Bollywood Oscars".
Among the Bollywood stars who will attend the awards ceremony in Spain will be hunky Indian actor Hrithik Roshan, the green-eyed star of the 2011 coming-of-age movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
It was produced in close collaboration with the Spanish tourism promotion agency Turespana.
The film about three friends on a pre-marriage road trip across Spain includes scenes at the La Tomatina festival in the town of
Bunol, where half-naked revellers hurl mushy tomatoes at each other, as well as at Pamplona's San Fermin bull-running festival.
The movie was the first major Indian production to be shot extensively in Spain. It was also the highest grossing Bollywood film of 2011.
"There was an immediate impact in the number of people requesting entry visas to travel to Spain," said the director of the London office of Turespana, Enrique Ruiz de Lera, who led the agency's talks with the producers of the movie.
The following year, 60,444 Indians visited Spain, nearly double the 2011 figure, according to the Tourism Ministry.
Lonely Planet in 2013 launched a guide to Spain aimed at the Indian market and travel agencies still advertise tours to the locations featured in the Zindagi movie.
India's Ambassador to Spain, Vikram Misri, said the film "was single-handedly responsible for making Spain a household name in India and increasing tourism from India".
Since Zindagi, another "five or six" Indian films have been shot in Spain, said the director of the Mumbai office of Turespana, Ignacio Ducasse.
They include Dil Dhadakne Do, featuring Bollywood star Anil Kapoor and filmed on a ship belonging to Pullmantur, Spain's biggest cruise operator.
Kapoor, 59, best known globally for his role in the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, said during a visit to Madrid in March to promote the Bollywood Oscars that he is "looking forward to coming back again and again to Spain".