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Culture

Berlin meets Bond with a Bollywood twist

A-list movie stars, hot-shot directors and crowds of starstruck extras are commonplace on the streets of Berlin but the city’s latest silver screen visitors have brought with them a splash of Indian colour.

Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra embrace in a dance from one of their Bollywood films

Khan und Chopra are a highly popular screen pairing

Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra are two of Bollywood's most popular performers with more than a 100 screen credits to their names. The superstar pair recently arrived in Berlin to start shooting "Don 2: The Chase Continues", a follow-up to the blockbuster original, "Don", which hit screens in 2006.

Producers of the movie describe it as James Bond with a Bollywood twist. However the film carves an identity of its own in that the 007 equivalent - played in the movie by Khan - is actually one of the bad guys. In the original movie he played the sinister henchman of an internationally-successful drugs baron.

Sitting in the director's chair is Farhan Akhtar who was convinced Berlin would be the ideal shooting location after a vacation there some three years ago to visit family.

"When I was here, I was very taken by the architecture of the city," he said at a press conference, "It is a city that represented to me a new world."

Akhtar also said that he felt that this movie, the first significant Indo-German film collaboration since 1925, was also "a great way to showcase this city to an Indian audience."

While the plot is still a closely guarded secret, the film – with a budget of around 12 million euros ($17 million) – is set to feature many of Berlin's most iconic tourist attractions. The Brandenburg Gate, the historic Olympic Stadium and the East Side Gallery – a painted stretch of the original Berlin Wall – all crop up as backdrops to the action.

Producer Mathias Schwerbrock, founder of Film Base Berlin and co-producer of the movie, is delighted to welcome the Indian film crew to his home city. "This is something special for a German producer," he said.

It's predicted that around 500 million people will see the movie when it opens in cinemas in India although the film's director, Farhan Akhtar, maintains that despite its Western filming location, it won't be "Bollywood Light" but rather the typical all-singing, all-dancing colourful extravaganza fans of the genre have come to expect.

Berlin businesses – mainly from the tourism industry – have around one million euros ($1.3 million) invested in the film and see it as fantastic opportunity to promote the city abroad. "Don 2 will be our advertising campaign for India," said Burkhard Kieker, Chief Executive Officer of tourism marketing company, visitBerlin.

The Hindi version of "Don 2: The Chase Continues" is due for release in its native India in December this year while a German-language dub will either appear at around the same time or debut at 2012's Berlinale film festival.

Author: Gavin Blackburn (Reuters)

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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