Say Seven Wonders, and one is shown a beautiful Aishwarya Rai fluttering her fluffy white gown as she romances Prashanth in Jeans (1998) with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop. Three decades earlier, France was made synonymous with the cloudy white Alps in Sivantha Mann(1969), one of the earliest Tamil movies to be shot overseas, starring Sivaji Ganesan and Kanchana. Yes, Tamil films have displayed an enduring desire to shoot in France.
Franck Priot, COO, Film France (Film Commission of France), who was here recently to talk about the support offered by French Government to attract Indian filmmakers, lists the number of Tamil movies shot in France in the recent years.
Films that have blended French background into Tamil films include Asal (2010), an action thriller by Saran, with Ajith in the lead role as an arms dealer in Paris. While the shots at the Lyon station give one a peek into the everyday Parisian life, the Pont Marie bridge on the Siene river give a seductive backdrop to the scenes.
Yet another movie that exploited the flavour of Paris right from its streets to Monte Carlo and Le Louvre, is Manmadhan Anbu (2010), directed by K S Ravikumar with Kamal Haasan, Madhavan and Trisha weaving a romantic comedy.
“Places like Eiffel Tower and Mount Blanc are recognised by more than five billion people on earth. With these attractions in the background, a film’s production value can increase many folds,” says Priot, who lists Notre-dome, the city hall of Paris, the Ouai de Tournelles among the many other glamorous locations for a romantic Tamil song shoot in Paris. The French Government too has been prodding the scope for strengthening the celluloid ties.
“From the preliminary steps that include deciding the spot and meeting the right production service to the miniscule issues of parking the shooting vans, everything is taken care of by a specially appointed trans-local representative for those who come to shoot in France,” says Priot, who also feels that filmakers are not taking enough advantage of the 20 per cent tax rebate on a high budget International production offered by the French government.
“We don’t charge anything for filmmakers who want to shoot a kissing scene on the lane, in front of Eiffel, you know,” Priot remarks. The French know how to lure, don’t they?