Bollywood shooting in Abu Dhabi

Filming starts at Emirates Palace hotel after a Dh80m movie deal is announced on the closing day of the MEIFF.

Abu Dhabi - October 19, 2008 - Govinda poses for a photograph while surrounding by fans after attending a press conference at the Emirates Place, Sunday, October 19, 2008 in Abu Dhabi. Govinda was part of a group announcing the details of three new film productions being shot in Abu Dhabi by India's Puja Fillms. ( Rich-Joseph Facun/ The National)
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ABU DHABI // Shooting for a Bollywood film started at Emirates Palace hotel yesterday after a US$22 million (Dh80m) movie deal was announced on the closing day of the Middle East International Film Festival. Code Red, an Abu Dhabi-based production company, and Puja Films, an Indian film house, will work together to make three films being shot in the capital over the next 12 months.

The first, Do Not Disturb, will cost about US$10m, said Vashu Bhagnani, producer of Puja Films. The Emirati production company will not finance the films, instead providing support staff including line producers, said Michael Valentine, managing partner of Code Red. The cast and crew were welcomed yesterday by Bassem Kudsi, director of communications for the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

"On behalf of the Abu Dhabi Government, we are honoured and pleased, and you will have our support," he said. "We are a family-friendly city and we have a very special relationship with India. We truly want to bring our cultures together and build more commerce. "The Bollywood journey started with the formation of our nation and we have a very special relationship. I remember Friday mornings or afternoons, watching Hindi movies.

"This is a move to make the relationship a more symbiotic one." Do Not Disturb, a comedy featuring Govinda, Lara Dutta, Sushmita Sen, Sohail Khan and Ritesh Deshmukh, will be shot at the Emirates Palace hotel over the next month. Govinda will star. He and the film's director David Dhawan, are known for their comedy partnerships, and have made a string of hits, including Hero No 1 and Partner, which also featured the Emirates Palace hotel.

Deskmukh, an architect turned actor, said he was struck by the immense scale and artistry of the hotel. Khan, the brother of Salman Khan, the Bollywood actor, is appearing in and co-producing the film. Emirates Palce was previously used as a location for one of his films, Partner, which was a huge commerical success. It prompted the team to return to the city, said Khan. "I told Mr Dhawan, you have to see this palace to believe it and come just once to check out the location. It will be worth it.

"This has always been a cherished palce and it is very safe." The managing director of Code Red, Saeel bin Rabbaa, and the film's director echoed Mr Kudsi's sentiments about the coming together of Bollywood and Abu Dhabi. "With this, we are celebrating a long list of film-makers and artists who have understood Abu Dhabi and its importance," said Mr Rabbaa. Mr Dhawan added: "It helps us in Mumbai that cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with their lovely locations, have joined together to work with India to make great cinema."