We want to simplify the procedure of filmmaking
Be it the Chaiya Chaiya song from Dil Se or a movie like Jab We Met, Railways have played an important role in Indian cinema. But no one really knows the amount of hard work and coordination that goes into creating these iconic scenes. There are various issues and permissions that a filmmaker has to deal with in order to get the camera rolling. And the co-operation of the Indian Railways is paramount in such situations. Narendra Patil, Chief PRO, Central Railway who was at the Film Bazaar this year spoke about the incentives provided to filmmakers, the issues they currently face and how the railways are working towards solving them.
What are the incentives that the railways are providing filmmakers to work around them in terms of locations as well as a transportation tool?
The Ministry of Railways conducted a Film Tourism Symposium at Film Bazaar 2015 along with the leading members of the country and some international filmmakers. The idea of the symposium was to understand the problems faced by the industry – the domestic as well as international industry, and to work out solutions to ease the filmmaking process in India. A lot of issues were discussed in this symposium, a majority of these were related to the delay in getting permissions and the delay in getting certain locations. Crowd management as an issue was also discussed. There were some issues about paperwork and regarding deposits and insurance, which the railways have to take care of. We on our part want to simplify the entire procedure of filmmaking and getting permissions and are working on it.
In terms of shooting with Railways, what are the current procedures versus what you’ll are planning to do?
We actually have 19 zonal railways. Depending on the geographical area filmmakers have to take permission from the different zonal areas. This was one of the issues that came up during the discussion. We are planning to give them the key resource person’s contact number from each zonal railway so that they can directly contact that person and make the process of setting up a shoot simpler. Filmmakers can also approach us directly via the internet. We will be working on that too.
Recently Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone along with Director Imtiaz Ali travelled from Bombay to Delhi, by train as part of their film’s promotions. How far was the railway involved in that?
They traveled from Mumbai to Delhi as normal passengers; in fact, the entire crew booked the tickets and went even though it was part of their film promotion. We were involved in the security aspects because they are big stars and heartthrobs of India. Everything else was done by them.
Do you look forward to similar associations in terms of marketing, where railways are promoted through activities such as these along with helping films as well?
Surely, we would like that and are shortlisting some locations too. There are around 20% of locations in the country where almost 80% of film shoots take place. Therefore, we are trying to make those locations more viable infrastructure wise for shooting. We are identifying such locations all over India and we will be making them better and easier for filmmakers to shoot in. Then are certain locations like hill railways, for example, Matheran Hill Railways. We have restarted the Matheran Hill Railways and are looking forward to filmmakers coming and shooting there. We will be making the toy trains also available for film shoots.
Are there any special schemes that you’ll are planning or already providing filmmakers/ ad and documentary filmmakers to shoot with the railways?
As of now we don’t have a direct incentive scheme. It is a professional business, therefore, we have our fixed charges decided by the Government of India and we charge them as per those. The main thing is that filmmakers don’t have any complaints about paying the charges. They just want the procedures to be simpler. The charges are not much so the entire industry is ready to pay up but they need a simplified process and also need guaranteed dates. Dates are an important issue as filmmakers don’t want to plan a shoot and then have to postpone it for some reason.
-Transcription by Aarti Sukhija