Shah Rukh Khan’s film Happy New Year will be the first Bollywood film to be shot entirely in Dubai, said a top industry official.
“It will be the first time where an entire Bollywood feature is shot in Dubai. It’s a dream come true,” said Jamal Al Sharif, chairman of Dubai Film And TV Commission (DFTC) in an interview with tabloid!. Currently, he’s swatting phone calls from overzealous fans (mostly female) who are eager to catch a glimpse of the superstar on UAE soil.
“Girls are crazy about him. I have to tell these girls, I am not his agent,” he quipped. He was speaking on the sidelines of an industry insider meet on Tuesday that saw production companies voice their concerns about location approvals and fee structures. So far, only a couple of South Indian films have been shot exclusively in Dubai, while Bollywood filmmakers and stars such as Salman Khan have visited Dubai to shoot song sequences only.
“Shah Rukh’s movie Happy New Year has been in discussion over a year. Last year, I met [director] Farah Khan who wanted to know more about shooting in Dubai. I was like: ‘Farah, tell me what you want’. Also, for Shah Rukh, Dubai is like a second home and having him give Dubai this credibility is important to us” said Al Sharif.
According to industry sources, Farah Khan — behind Khan-led blockbusters such as Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om — will be in Dubai next Wednesday to scout for locations and shooting is due to begin next month. A 200-strong crew will be assisting Farah with her project.
“It’s going to be shot mostly indoors,” said Al Sharif, who has extended several incentives on catering, visa and hotel stays to the Happy New Year crew.
Efforts are also being made to streamline the process of shooting in Dubai. DFTC, which assists productions in Dubai by serving as a one-stop shop for producers and filmmakers, intends to go virtual by the end of December.
“When that’s in place, a click of button will let you apply for permissions online and track your applications. It will be a one-stop shop.” Close on the heels of Masterchef Australia filming in Dubai last month, talks are also on to lure two major Hollywood studios to shoot their films in the emirate. It’s rumoured that the Fast And Furious team were in Dubai recently to scout for locations. However, Sharif did not confirm the development.
“I can’t reveal anything due to confidentiality reasons. Dubai is becoming popular for reality television. So just having Masterchef Australia film here proves that Dubai is capable of handling large shows like Masterchef,” said Sharif. Plans are also being made to restructure the nature of shooting fees based on the nature of the project being shot.
“Earlier we charged Dh2,000 for shooting per day and we restricted the number of days. But we hope to restructure it in such a way that with the same fee they can shoot for more days,” said Sharif.