Anurag Kashyap’s new bollywood venture ‘Bombay Velvet’ is a romantic story set against the backdrop in the 50s and 60s. As there was no Sri Lankan connection with the movie, we wondered what made the filmmaker decided to re-create the lovely city of Bombay as it was called back then in Sri Lanka and spoke to the director Anurag Kashyap and the production head Vivek Aggarwal on the reasons.
Anurag said, “We came to Sri Lanka as this is the only country where we could have made the film in the costs we are making it and in the number of days we are shooting it. Due to the influence of the British and the Portugese in creating Bombay, I visited several countries where the Portugese went, right from Sao Paulo to Shanghai as many period films have been shot there to re-create my Mumbai till Vivek found Sri Lanka. We chose Sri Lanka for many reasons.
1) Support from the Sri Lankan government: They gave us the land to create a set which we are leaving behind for them. It’s a mutual deal that benefits the both of us and helped us reduce the cost humungously.
2) Availability of Vintage and imported cars: Sri Lanka is full of vintage and imported cars which we needed, as those were the cars that were used in Mumbai at that time.
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3) Architecture of Fort Colombo is similar to Mumbai: So we shot a part there and the rest we re-created Mumbai on a set.
4) Peace while shooting: It’s so peaceful shooting here. The usual din associated with a film set is not there. People are incredibly cooperative and respectful. Also, we wanted to shoot the film away from the industry and keep it away from all kinds of negativity. I feel bad that we had such a beautiful European standard massive city at that time and what we have made it into, given lack of control and no restrictions and lack of heritage. Pure greed has killed Mumbai.”
Giving his reasons, Vivek Aggarwal, the production head who actually identified Sri Lanka and supervised creation of the set, said, “The current President is seen to have been responsible for the end of a war that existed here till a few years back. Till just four years ago, every four kms there would be an army barrack stopping your car to check your ID and there would be bombings left, right, centre, which is why the filmmakers in Colombo would also go and shoot outside. Then Salman, who is friends with the President’s son, shot Ready here. We have created our set in their film city that will be turned into a tourist destination after we finish shooting. Everyone in Sri Lanka knows about the film, not just because of the set built over 12 acres, but because we needed extras from all over and so the word was out. As against in India where we get six hours of output per person per day, in Sri Lanka it becomes 10 hours and there is no ‘ho jayega’ attitude here. The number of vintage cars are literally 10 times that are available in India. Also forget the ease of shooting here, professionalism of the people and the support of the government, something that was costed at `40 crore in Mumbai or Hyderabad has costed us just 40% of that here.”