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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » June 3, 2014
The world of movies
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Bollywood Comes to Warsaw
June 3, 2014   
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by Vedika Luthra
The cast and crew of Kick, an upcoming Bollywood action movie, descended on Warsaw in mid-April to shoot the climax of the film here. The movie, which features Salman Khan, one of India’s most prominent actors, and Jaqueline Fernandez, a former Miss Sri Lanka, is the first ever Bollywood production to be set—at least partially—in the Polish capital.

Using Poland as a destination for a foreign film has been rare in the past. The Polish Tourism Organization (POT) predicts that, after the release of Kick in July, foreign filmmaking in Poland will grow and that, in turn, is likely to give the country a higher profile abroad and draw more tourists here.

The cost of shooting a movie in Poland is half that in many other European countries, according to Film Polska productions, a Polish production agency assisting in the making of Kick. The filmmakers have not revealed what the budget of the Indian movie is. However, the Examiner.com website has estimated the figure at around zl.75 million.

Another major advantage that Poland offers filmmakers is a variety of settings and a mixture of architectural styles with strong influences from other European countries.

Krzysztof Sołek, head of Film Polska, said, “We can offer all kinds of locations in one country, which is very rare, because we have old cities, old castles, a beautiful range of mountains, lakes, rivers, the seaside—we have everything.”

Despite this diversity, which allows Poland to stand in for other countries in movies, the list of foreign films made and set in this country is brief. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) features several scenes shot in Poland, including by Lake Siemianówka near the eastern city of Białystok. Meanwhile, Fanaa (2006), an Indian blockbuster, was partially shot in Zakopane. The southern Polish resort stood in for Kashmir, which could not be accessed at the time due to political unrest.

The two movies, however, did not promote Poland as a destination. Kick, on the other hand, features Salman Khan jumping off Warsaw’s trademark Palace of Culture and Science in one of the main action scenes.

Poland has its own movie-making tradition and has produced directors and cinematographers who are recognized around the world. The National Film School in ŁódĽ, central Poland, is one of the best-known institutions of this kind internationally, with alumni including Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda, two world-famous directors. Danish director Lars Von Trier is known to have hired Polish special effects experts for his films.

During a press conference, when asked about shooting in Warsaw, Khan said that, if not for the skills of Polish experts and the technical facilities available in Poland, “I’m pretty sure that we would not have been able to accomplish what we were able to accomplish here in terms of shooting.”

Meanwhile, Poles appreciate the importance of film in a way that others may not, according to Ewa Mazierska, a Polish film critic, columnist and lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in England. During the communist era in Poland, “political discussion was thwarted, there was no official opposition to the Communist Party,” said Mazierska. “In such circumstances political discourse was conveyed largely through art and cinema especially.”

The past few weeks have stirred excitement in Warsaw as crowds gathered to see stunts for Kick, including a scene that involved crashing a double-decker bus into the Vistula River. The Polish Tourism Organization hopes to see an increase in the number of tourists from India after the release of the film.

Poland draws 15 million foreign tourists annually, according to the Polish Tourism Organization (POT). In comparison, Spain draws over 60 million a year. But Poland has opened itself up to tourism relatively recently. “We do not have a tradition of showcasing Poland on an international forum as long as that of other tourist organizations in Europe,” says Emilia Kubik, a project manager for POT. “After we joined the European Union, we needed some time to build our strategy—to define the markets that were important for us.”

After Kick, the Film Commission in Poland is confident that other foreign movies will choose Poland as a location. Later this year, another Bollywood film, called Bangistan, plans to shoot scenes in Cracow. “What happens is somebody breaks the ice, because filmmaking is a very sensitive thing,” the director of Kick, Sajid Nadidwala, said during a recent interview. “But once people come to know that somebody’s gone [to a location] and there is no problem, then it becomes easier for others to come.”
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