Past and present students from Trinity College, Dublin, at the screening of Ek Tha Tiger at INOX (Forum). (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)
They clapped and cheered when Roshan Seth went cycling around the cobbled paths of Trinity College in Dublin and sighed when Salman Khan punctured the eggs on his Irish breakfast platter.
Surprised by their sense of “oooh and aaah” timing?
Well, watching the Wednesday evening show of Ek Tha Tiger in Screen 4 of INOX (Forum) was a bunch of former and current students from Ireland’s oldest college where “40 per cent” of the Kabir Khan blockbuster was shot.
Calcutta is one of the five cities that a delegation of 11 professors and officials from Trinity College in Dublin is touring — apart from Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi — as part of an “educational trip” spiced up by special screenings of the Salman-Katrina starrer.
The trip was planned 18 months ago when Yash Raj Films was filming Ek Tha Tiger in Dublin, marking Bolly’s shooting debut at Trinity. “We had told them when the film is launched it would be a great moment to make this trip to India,” said Jane Ohlmeyer, the vice-president for global relations at the 420-year-old college.
So, more than 150 students invited from schools across the city and a group of Irish students from Trinity doing voluntary work with NGOs in Calcutta trooped in to watch Salman and Katrina romancing on their campus.
“It was bizarre to see us in that context! It’s really well shot. I’ve been in Calcutta for three months so it was a nice reminder of home. It’s my first Bollywood film and I’m really enjoying it. I thought that the actor running on top of the tram on the Louis line was very cool, especially when you’re familiar with the roads and buildings around,” smiled Nicole, a post-graduate student at Trinity studying social work, during the interval.
In the Yash Raj film that has gone past the Rs 100 crore post in just six days, Salman plays a RAW agent called Tiger who is sent to Dublin to observe a scientist of Indian origin, Professor Kidwai (Seth), who teaches at Trinity and is suspected of leaking his research to Pakistan’s defence establishment. When Tiger’s attempts to meet the scientist fail, he befriends — and eventually falls in love with — his caretaker Zoya (Katrina).
Everything one sees of the Irish capital in Ek Tha Tiger is either on the Trinity campus or within easy walking distance of the college where Salman and Katrina shot for six weeks.
“You get a very good sense of the campus from the film. Banjara, the big song, was filmed at Front Square, the main entrance to Trinity. Indians living in Ireland came to watch the shooting and the students on campus engaged with the actors, volunteered and loved the energy of a Bollywood film. When we told Yash Chopra (who was given an honorary professorship at Trinity on August 14) about the screenings, he was so excited that he made the subtitled print available to us,” said Ohlmeyer, who has already seen Tiger four times!
After Bombay, Bangalore and Chennai, Team Trinity reached Calcutta on Tuesday before leaving on Thursday for Delhi. “How can one come to India and not come to Calcutta? Over the years, the college has had connections with Irish schools like Xavier’s and Loreto and Sister Cyril has an honorary degree from Trinity,” said Ohlmeyer.
The team spent Wednesday visiting La Martiniere For Girls and Presidency University. Their brief? To develop the research collaborations they have with Presidency University, raise the visibility of Ireland and also Trinity College in Calcutta, and attract the best Indian students to come and study at the 420-year-old college.
“We want to make Trinity an attractive destination for students. While UK is making it tougher, Ireland is making it easier for Indian students to come and study and we thought Ek Tha Tiger would help a little bit because it has Trinity in the storyline,” said Ohlmeyer.