Toronto: There will be a jump in Bollywood units visiting Canada, thanks to exotic locales like Niagara Falls, the Indian diaspora and first class facilities, says Toronto film commissioner Peter Finestone, pointing out that Hindi movie productions pumped in over $850 million into the economy last year.
"Of course, Bollywood films have been shot here since the late 1980s. We did some big films - at the rate of one or two a year - from the mid-90s to 2001. Among the major films shot here were `Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi` in 1995, and `Mr and Mrs Khiladi` and `Shabash Daddy` in 1997," Finestone told reporters in an interview.
"Then there was a decline, but Bollywood came back. In 2010, we did two films, one of which was a crossover."
Anees Bazmee`s upcoming "Thank You" has also been shot in Canada.
Explaining why Toronto was attracting film productions from Bollywood and other places, he said: "We deliver first-class facilities and support and cast staff. We have every kind of studio and equipment that film production needs. Bollywood shooting here is fun as production companies can tap into the talent of a huge Indian diaspora.
"Then Bollywood loves the kind of shooting spots we offer - the Niagara Falls, fabulous lakes, wildness, vistas and everything."
He added, "Since Bollywood is trying to make more and more crossover (cross-cultural)films like `Bend It Like Beckham`, increasingly non-Indians are flocking to them. I think these kind of films (cross-over) will also help Bollywood stay connected with second- and third-generation Indian diaspora."
Finestone feels Bollywood offers a unique genre of films.
"These films are different. They are predictable - you know what you will get when you go to see a Bollywood film. That`s why they are liked by non-Indians."
Indian films, which already enjoy a huge popularity here, will become even more popular as Bollywood also brings its International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards show here and India holds a year-long cultural festival in the city.
"As India has come of age, Indian culture (like other things) has taken new dimensions. Indian culture is a big export, and it will pick up (here) this year," Finestone told reporters.
With India announcing a cultural centre and plans to hold its next mini-Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here in June after the signing of a cultural MoU with Canada last year, cultural collaboration between the two countries is set to get a big boost.
Since Toronto is the world`s major film production centre, Finestone said: "The Canada-India cultural MoU may lead to a film co-production agreement, which will bring more Bollywood work here. We have 50 such agreements with foreign countries.
"Talks for this agreement have been going on for some time. Once it is signed, Bollywood productions will be treated as domestic productions. Which means Indian production companies can access funding from Telefilm Canada (government agencies that fund Canadian film companies) and get tax concessions."