The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rate spurt in shoot at site

At stations, Howrah and Sealdah, Rs 10,000 per day.

On train, Rs 1 lakh per day, Rs 5 lakh as security deposit.

In Metro Rail station, Rs 10,000 per day, Rs 5 lakh security deposit.

On Victoria Memorial lawns, Rs 1 lakh per film.

On Vidyasagar Setu, Rs 10,000 for first two hours, Rs 5,000 for every subsequent hour'

Cinematic sites in the city are raising the rate card and rolling out the red carpet as film-makers from west and south focus on Calcutta as backdrop and basis.

'After Mani Ratnam's Yuva (that was shot extensively on the second Hooghly bridge) we are noticing an increasing number of feature film, telefilm and serial-makers approaching us for permission to use the bridge,' says a senior official of Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners. 'There are at least half-a-dozen offers from film-makers in Mumbai and down south.'

Cashing in on the craze, the agency in charge of Vidysagar Setu has raised shooting rates from Rs 500 per hour to Rs 10,000 for the first two hours.

The diversity of setting 'distinctive in look and feel, merging past and present ' is the lure for movie-makers. 'Calcutta is the only metro that has a soul and character. It offers so much as far as outdoors are concerned that many Hindi films are also being shot here,' says Sanjay Routray, creative head, Jhamu Sughand Productions, steering Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Kalpurush.

The shooting schedule for the gang that produced Lagaan will take the cast to the Sealdah footbridge and the Esplanade tram depot, a school in Salt Lake and the bustle of Gariahat.

Also traipsing around town is the star-studded Team Parineeta. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's unit is here for a 35-day shoot at Prinsep Ghat and Babughat, Sealdah station and Howrah station, Lahabari and Burdwan house, Race Course and Indian Museum.

'In Mumbai, the rates are higher but you get things done in a day. Here, you have to be patient, but anything is okay to get such special shots that are only possible in Calcutta,' says Ishwar Singh, line producer for the film being directed by Pradeep Sarkar, who is 'very happy' with the support from police and other local authorities.

Piety points figure high on the popularity charts. Sambhu Prosad Mukherjee, president, Kalighat temple, says the number of applications from film-makers seeking permission to use the premises has risen dramatically.

'Even three years ago, we would receive such applications (like the one from Parineeta) once in two or three years. At that time we did not expect any fee from the film unit but now we do get a good donation at the end of the shoot,' adds Mukherjee.

At another end of town, the Salt Lake municipality has also woken up to the business potential of this tinsel trend. Any site under the Salt Lake municipality can now be booked for a shoot for Rs 5,000 per day. 'We worked out the policy and the rates just six months ago,' confirms Dilip Gupta, chairman, Bidhannagar Municipality.

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