Residents on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island have been puzzling over a flurry of airborne activity, with helicopters buzzing around their neighbourhood since February 26 – and men spotted dangling from them.
The aerial drama is all part of the shooting of some high-rise action sequences for Bollywood action film Dishoom.
“Helicopters flying within our community. Feels like we are in a James Bond film,” wrote Maha Abdellatif Ben Achour, who posted a video to the Gate Towers & Arc Community Facebook group showing a helicopter whizzing around her complex.
"I saw two men hanging onto the helicopter, and the helicopter went down in such a spectacular way – it was going down in, like, a 45-degrees position. It was impressive", Achour, from Tunisia, told The National.
The men that Achour spotted were most likely the main stars of Dishoom, John Abraham and Varun Dhawan – or their stunt doubles – who have been shooting in Abu Dhabi for a month.
When we asked at the start of filming in the capital about the hair-raising action scenes they were planning to shoot in the city, Dhawan said: “John has a scene hanging from a helicopter and I will be hanging from John.”
Another video posted on Instagram, by @Instaabudhabi, showed a helicopter chasing a Toyota FJ cruiser on Reem Island's sandy waste ground.
Hala Aridi, who lives on the 65th floor of Gate Towers, first spotted a helicopter on February 27 from her bedroom on the 65th floor of Gate Towers.
“It was circling past my building above a stretch of empty land but I had no idea what it was doing there,” she says. “The helicopter was circling all weekend. Today, I saw a drone – I can’t believe how high it was flying. It makes my husband and I very curious to know what they’re up to.”
Aridi also spotted a small film crew – “only a couple of people” – outside the office entrance to Sky Tower.
“I assumed they were filming a commercial, not a big Bollywood film production” says Aridi, who is from Jordan.
Dishoom has also been shooting in other popular Abu Dhabi spots, including Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World, Saadiyat Island, Emirates Palace Marina and Yas Marina.
The Abu Dhabi location filming is drawing to a close, with the last dayscheduled for March 2, after which the cast and crew will pack up and return to Mumbai.
"I love it, it's my first time shooting over here", Dhawan told The National when asked about filming in Abu Dhabi. "They don't have places like this in India right now – they are such beautiful, gigantic structures, and they make great film locations."