The tourism department of Puducherry has decided to launch a campaign to capitalise of the popular Hollywood film Life of Pi, which was shot in the Union Territory, and has earmarked funds for restoration of important sites which are in ruins.
The Calve College school building, which is over a century old and where a good portion of the film had been shot, is not in good shape, due to poor maintenance. Around six months ago, INTACH (Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage) had proposed restoration of the building and had given a detailed project plan. Though the government had agreed in principle then, it is yet to approve the plan and release funds for maintenance, said Ashok Panda of INTACH.
Similarly, the botanical gardens which are more than 200 years old, where a set for a zoo was erected with some live animals and digital techniques in the film, is a wreck, especially after cyclone Thane a year ago when a large number of trees were uprooted and are yet to be restored.
While restoration of the Botanical garden has been planned by the department of agriculture, the tourism department has also planned to enhance the ambience through a project of `8.4 crore, sanctioned by the Tourism Ministry, said Tourism Director A S Sivakumar.
A Japanese garden, a greenhouse and a maze are part of this project. Tenders are to be floated for the project, following the release of 50 per cent of the funds under the centrally-sponsored Mega Circuit Tourism development scheme.
Puducherry still does not have a zoo, despite Ang Lee, the director of the film, making an appeal to the Puducherry administration in this regard. After the shoot, the unit had even left behind elements they had created for the zoo in the film, to help the government build a zoo.
Even the Banyan tree in the historic Kizhur in rural Puducherry, which features in the film is not being cared for. The government has said that the area where the tree is located will be developed in the next financial year under rural tourism.
The Chozha period Thirukameswarar Temple at Villianur, which is also a location in the film is being renovated at a cost of `5 crore. The government of India has given in-principle agreement and soon the project report would be sent for approval.
Besides, heritage buildings, including the Church in Rue Dumas and the heritage streets in the boulevard area, also shown in the film, would be highlighted with decorative lighting, said Sivakumar.
The only glitch is these plans are expected to take time, for which the Land of Pi campaign will not wait.
The department has already begun creating designs for the logo, which would be sent to the Ministry of Tourism, which will create the actuals and then launch the campaign under its Incredible India campaign.
Miniature 3D replicas adapted from the film would be placed at popular tourism spots, including the airport and Chunamber Boat house, said Sivakumar.
Jingles would be aired through FM radio in various foreign languages including Chinese, French and Korean. The promotion would also feature spiritualism which is in the undercurrent of the film, said Sivakumar
“At a meeting held on January 10 in New Delhi by the Ministry of Tourism along with the Puducherry and Kerala government officials for promotion of Tourism in Puducherry and Munnar, we have been asked to capitalise on the film in a big way to promote the destinations,” said Sivakumar.
Travel website makemytrip.com and advertising agency McCann Erickson would be involved in the campaign along with tour operators.