If the overseas schedules of upcoming films are any indication, Bollywood seems to be eyeing East European countries as a hotspot. The region may have been torn by strife in the past, but now the local authorities are throwing open their arms to Bollywood folk by offering incentives and special deals for movie and ad shoots. And where Bollywood goes, the world goes — remember how Hindi films put Switzerland on the tourist map? Taking this as a cue, most other European countries are also keen on welcoming film stars to boost their tourism.
Last month, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol wrapped up a schedule of their upcoming film, 'Dilwale', in Bulgaria's capital city, Sofia. In June, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon, who are also part of the 'Dilwale' cast, shot for a song there.
Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol on the set of 'Dilwale' in Bulgaria
Ajay Devgn takes off for that country early next year to shoot his next directorial venture, 'Shivaay'. In fact, the actor-producer was planning to film the movie in Calgary in Canada, but did a rethink after visiting Bulgaria. Devgn claims to be the first in the industry to zero in the exotic location.
Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon in the Balkan nation
Apparently, it was Ajay Devgn who spoke about the Balkan nation with his director-buddy Rohit Shetty who decided to shoot a schedule of his SRK-starrer 'Dilwale' there.
Ajay Devgn has zeroed in on Bulgaria for his next film, 'Shivaay'
Says Ajay Devgn, "The Bulgarian government has been extremely supportive. To show our appreciation, I will be lending a helping hand to promote Bulgarian tourism." The country's tourism minister Nikolina Angelkova is also slated to visit Mumbai to meet Bollywood folk and explore various options of shooting there.
For his 2016 release 'Fan', Shah Rukh shot in Dubrovnik in Croatia. King Khan flew to the coastal city in March, which is known for its Gothic and Renaissance architecture, to shoot for some high-octane action sequences. SRK was evidently spellbound by the country's natural beauty. He had tweeted, "How beautiful is #Dubrovnik... makes me want to write."
Shah Rukh Khan has shot in Bulgaria for Dilwale and in Croatia for 'Fan'
Draw of the Dracula
Prabhu Dheva's next 'Singh Is Bliing' starring Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson was shot in Romania last month. Apart from the capital city Bucharest, the climax is said to have been shot at Bran Castle, a modern-day tourist attraction in Transylvania that is often referred to as Dracula's Castle — it is the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel, Dracula.
Akshay Kumar shoots for 'Singh is Bliing' in Romania
Rajkummar Rao, Swara Bhaskar and Tina Desai had also made their way to Bucharest in May for an ad shoot. Says Tina, "Bucharest is beautiful as is all of Europe. Life there is symbolic of its austere past, but the countryside is quite different — untouched and lush. I even visited the castle in Transylvania which was the basis of Bram Stoker's Dracula and I found it gorgeous instead of eerie. The Renaissance didn't really reach much of Eastern Europe, so the architecture is relatively simple, but it still has charm, like all places with a strong history do."
(From left) Rajkummar Rao, Tina Desai and Swara Bhaskar shot for an a commercial in Romania's capital, Bucharest
Vipul Shah's upcoming production, a sequel to his 2011 film 'Force' rolls in Budapest in Hungary next month. The John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha-starrer, directed by Abhinay Deo, will be shot there on a start-to-finish schedule.
Salman Khan had shot in Warsaw in Poland for his last year's Eid release, 'Kick'. He had also shot for a romantic track 'Tere Naina' with co-star Daisy Shah in 'Jai Ho' (2014) in Romania. Speculations were rife that the location was selected because of his alleged ladylove Iulia Vantur, a Romanian TV presenter and actress.
Imtiaz Ali had also shot for his Ranbir Kapoor-starrer 'Rockstar' (2011) in Prague and Liberec in Czech Republic.
According to the United Nations Statistical Division, 10 countries are part of this region — Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.
The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings by the UN is only for statistical convenience and does not have anything to do with political or other affiliation of countries or territories.