Bollywood actors Vikram and Neil Nitin Mukesh have arrived in Northern Ireland to begin filming feature film ‘David’ in Belfast today.
The first Indian film to ever shoot in the North, ‘David’ is being directed by award-winning Indian director Bejoy Nambiar, and produced by Swapna David of Hobo Pictures Ltd in the UK.
The crew has been on recce and in pre-production in Belfast for the last week, with filming getting underway in Belfast city today.
The gangster-comedy is set in 1970s Belfast, where Indian Muslim David is taken under local mobster Ghani’s wing after the death of his father. Although a devout Muslim, Ghani is hiding a dreadful secret from his past, leaving David facing a moral dilemma when he finds out what his mentor and father figure is hiding.
Bollywood actors Lara Dutta, Vinay Virmani, Tabu and Isha Sharvani also feature in the film.
The film was enticed to Northern Ireland on the back of a trip to India earlier this year by the North’s Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster. In a collaborative effort between Invest Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen, Indian production company Getaway Films has received £30,000 funding through the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Welcoming the film team to Northern Ireland, Minister Foster said: “I had the opportunity to meet the Indian film industry in April, during a visit to India organised by Invest NI. The company was considering a number of locations for the making of this film so I am delighted that we were able to secure this for Northern Ireland.”
Swapna David, producer of ‘David’, praised the Northern Irish locations, most notably Belfast: “Belfast has been a treasure chest of beautiful locations, fabulous people and a very supportive local government. Minister Foster and the Invest NI's India office have been amazing in their effort to introduce us to Belfast and to coax us to explore Northern Ireland as a filming location for Indian Films.
“Since we have been here, NI Screen and the Belfast Council have extended their sincere warmth and support, so much so that we don't feel like this is our the first time here. I am surprised that Indian films haven't been here before and am very thrilled that we are the first Indian production here. This is just the beginning. We are looking forward to being back here next spring.”
Previously Dublin played host to Bollywood film ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, which filmed on location for five weeks in 2011. Co-produced by Ireland’s Fantastic Films, the blockbuster is thought to have employed over 1,000 people in the local industry, including line producer Mary McCarthy (Once) and production designer John Hand (Wake Wood). The feature was released in August of this year.
Expecting the same success of ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, Minister Foster said: “The value of attracting an industry that has an audience of over a billion people globally cannot be underestimated. Not only will this raise the profile of Northern Ireland as a movie location, but it will also bring in a fresh wave of tourists to Northern Ireland – something that has been proven in other countries that have played host to Indian movies.
“There are also potential opportunities for Northern Ireland's growing creative industries sector. I applaud the efforts of Invest NI’s India team and NI Screen in promoting Northern Ireland and hope that we will see more Indian movies made here as a result.”
Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, added: “We are delighted to welcome the cast and crew of ‘David’ to Northern Ireland. This might be a first for us but we hope not the last. India has a rich history of film-making and Indian cinema is a recognised global industry. In pursuit of our mission to develop the screen industry in Northern Ireland, it makes sense to look east, as well as west, in terms of inward investing films.”
Northern Ireland’s screen industry is definitely developing, with multi-million HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ currently filming on location, with a host of Northern Irish talent, including Ciarán Hinds, Richard Dormer and Emmy-nominated sound mixers Ronan Hill and Mervyn Moore, among the cast and crew.