The lawns of the German embassy in New Delhi were dense as people from all walks of life braved the winter nip to come listen to director Farhan Akhtar whose much-awaited movie “Don 2 - The King is Back” will screen in the German capital next week.
"I was really struck by the architecture of Berlin, the history of the place, the vibrancy, but even more by the people of the city," the Bollywood director told his fans. "They were great, friendly people and they were very welcoming."
“Berlin is considered Germany's number one film city,” said Germany's acting Ambassador to India, Cord Meier-Klodt. "Many Hollywood stars, including Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Kate Winslet have shot in Berlin."
400 films a year
On February 9, Berlin will roll out the red carpet for more than 19,000 professional visitors from 115 countries. The Berlinale's public program comprises some 400 films every year, mostly international or European premieres.
But it is only in the past few years that Berlin has really became interesting for Bollywood, after Shah Rukh Khan, or SRK, attended the festival and Farhan Akhtar decided to bring him and Priyanka Chopra to the German metropolis and shoot a film.
"So people could see the city," Akhtar told Deutsche Welle, saying that he chose prominent locations such as Alexander Platz, the Berliner Dom (the cathedral), the State Opera, the French cathedral, Gendarmenmarkt and of course the Brandenburg Gate.
"Berlin has become increasingly popular with Indian tourists after Shah Rukh spent over 50 days in the German capital with his a crew to shoot the movie," film critic Chandan Lalit told Deutsche Welle.
"The film is bound to get an extra boost also because of the 'Germany and India 2011 -2012' festival which is underway. People will be more curious," added Parminder Hooda, a die-hard SRK fan who attended the embassy function.
A runaway success
Released in December 2011, the sequel to the 2006 "Don: The Chase Begins Again" has been a runaway success, collecting almost $10 million within three days.
“Don 2” starts off almost immediately from where its prequel ended. The protagonist played by Shah Rukh Khan is a mob boss and the gripping thriller sees him through various daring escapades, which includes accessing German banks' security systems.
SRK, who is India's highest paid actor, already has a captive audience in Germany. This will be his third visit to the Berlinale after his first appearance in 2008 with "Om Shanti Om" and two years later with “My Name is Khan.” Other top Indian actors Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra will also be at the Berlin screening.
A special "On the Trail of Don 2" tour has been arranged during the festival to allow fans to walk in the footsteps of the film's hero.
Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Anne Thomas