Indian city expects Thai film-makers to shoot after FTA signed

Economy March 24, 2014 00:00

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai

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Ramoji, the world's largest film city, located in Hyderabad, is expected to find more Thai and Asean film-makers, thanks to the Asean-India Free Trade Agreement, which covers service liberalisation and is expected to be signed soon.

“Only a few foreign filmmakers have set up in Ramoji Film City, but after having the FTA between Asean and India, more enterprises and tourists from the region are expected to come,” Rajeev Jalnapurkar, vice president of Ushakiron Movies, the operator of Ramoji Film City, said last week. Thai production houses should come to Ramoji, as it provides world-class facilities. It can also adapt or decorate scenes to meet producers’ demands. It is also a perfect place for outdoor shoots.
Due to similar culture and familiar atmosphere, Ramoji can serve not only movies, but also soap operas, music videos and advertisements.
To facilitate more tourists and enterprises to do more business, particularly in the film industry in Hyderabad, a commercial city in southern India, more direct flights from major cities in Asean to Hyderabad were needed. 
Only a few airlines in Asean have launched direct flights to the city, including Thai Airways from Bangkok.
The Indian government’s plan to allow visas on arrival for Asean visitors following the FTA should encourage more businessmen and tourists from Asean to visit the city.
The firm handles shooting locations for about 100 films a year, mostly Indian. Only 1-2 per cent are foreign made, either from Bangladesh or countries in Europe such as Finland.
After the FTA is signed this year, the company will hold more activities to promote Ramoji Film City in Asean and Thai markets.
The film city can also serve as a tourist attraction and fun park.
Since its grand opening in 2003, Ramoji has attracted more than 1.2 million visitors a year, of whom 5 per cent are foreign and about 95 per cent Indian. In its first year of operation, the city drew about 600,000 visitors. The company projects growth of about 20 per cent a year with the “seamless” market.
Ramoji Film City, set up by Ramoji Group in 1996 on 2,000 acres (809 hectares), offers comprehensive and world-class filmmaking facilities for dream merchants. Certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest film studio complex, a filmmaker can walk in with a script and walk out with a film.
Numerous titles in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya, Bhojpuri, English and several TV commercials and serials are produced every year. 
With five luxury hotels and full facilitators, Ramoji is an extremely popular destination for tourists seeking recreation and a setting for conferences and wedding ceremonies.