'King Khan' is crazy about Germany and his fans in Europe are just as crazy about him. Shah Rukh continues to earn praise for bringing Berlin to India in his film 'Don 2.'
Shah Rukh Khan's fans are a courageous lot. On February 11, a crowd of more than a 1000 people waited in freezing temperatures outside the Friedrichstadtpalast in Berlin as Khan was due to arrive for the premiere of his film, "Don 2." In typical Bollywood style, the "King" was delayed while Don 2's director, Farhan Akhtar and his leading actress, Priyanka Chopra tried their best to appease fans waiting at the red carpet. Chopra and Akhtar made their way through the crowd, signing autographs and talking extensively to the press as fans from as far as Georgia and Romania screamed for autographs.
Originally scheduled to land in Berlin on February 9, Khan was also planning to attend a show with popular German TV host Thomas Gottschalk. However, a cold delayed his plans by two days. Fans in Berlin had only one question for him: was he feeling better now? Speaking to DW reporters at the red carpet, he said, "I don't know, it's really cold here." Following a speech after the premiere at the Friedrichstadtpalast, a happy Khan expressed himself on Twitter, "yay..made it to brrrlin. needed to replenish the love i give on screen & no better place to get it bak than germany. so many hugs 7 kisses."
Despite long delays and speculation on Khan's visit, German newspapers and magazines have been remarkably kind with most of them excusing the superstar's delay and giving him credit for showcasing the German capital. A few have called his character in the movie "exaggerated" but have gone on to say that "it's good fun," especially because of the police chase sequences through Berlin. Don 2 is a thriller where Khan plays the drug mafia boss "Don," who is being chased by Interpol and by competing drug cartels in Europe who believe he might steal their businesses. The movie was filmed in Thailand, Malaysia, Switzerland and Germany's capital, Berlin.
Indian movies for global audiences
Bollywood films are becoming increasingly popular in the West. Bollywood stars are also increasingly making their presence felt in international events. Actress Priyanka Chopra made an appearance at the Grammy Awards shortly after her premiere in Berlin. In an interview with DW, she said she was excited about her first time at the Berlinale. Chopra's two movies, Don 1 and "Saat Khoon Maaf," an adaptation of the short story "Susanna's Seven Husbands" by author Ruskin Bond have previously featured in the Berlinale. Chopra is known for her off-beat performances in a film industry that is known for its typical "traditional woman" roles.
While this may not exactly be a selling point for Indian movies abroad, Indian producers are constantly on the lookout for scripts and stories which will attract mainstream audiences in the West. In an interview with DW, director Farhan Akhtar says he made Don 2 with European sensibilities in mind. His experience with Berlin was very good, he said. "When I have everything which I need to make a good movie, then I can't really ask for more. The crew and the production here was great, people were helpful."
A 'film-friendly' city
Akhtar is the director of several movies, including "Dil Chahta Hai" (what my heart wants), "Lakshya" (goal) and "Zindagi na milegi dobara" (you can't live twice), which have rocketed him to cult status in India because of their focus on modern youth and their emotional struggles. His films have been extensively shot outside of India, including in Australia and Spain.
Producer Ritesh Sidhwani also believes that Berlin is a very "film-friendly" city, although he has had problems “understanding its culture.” Several governments across the world offer special subsidies to film producers to shoot in their country and for Don 2, subsidies were also provided.
When it comes to shooting Bollywood films abroad, Sidhwani says a lot depends upon the script. He is currently working on films in collaboration with the governments of the United Kingdom, Singapore, Greece and Malaysia.
Author: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Editor: Sarah Berning