Filming in India – Dileep Singh Rahtore

By Pickle  November 1, 2022
Filming in India – Dileep Singh Rahtore, Pickle Media

Dileep Singh Rahtore
CEO and Co-founder, On The Road Production

Born and raised in Rajasthan, Dileep Singh Rahtore is highly regarded as a production expert in the Indian and South Asian region with over 20 years of experience facilitating international feature projects, award winning documentaries, commercials and high-end photography projects for American, European and Asian studios and production companies.

Dileep’s experience as Producer/Line Producer extends throughout South Asia and has filmed in Russia, France and USA. Some of his feature credits include Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, The Way Back, Blood Diamond, Hexe Lilli, Eight Miles High among others.

Here is what Dileep has to say about his experiences of filming in India:

Experience of filming Tenet and The Dark Knight in India

The Dark Knight was shot in Jodhpur and the film required a very different kind of location. So we had to prepare the backdrop of Mehrangarh because of the filming requirements. To shoot the film, we had to completely shut down the entry to the Fort for tourist visits for the whole day. We had to make a special arrangement with the royal family of Jodhpur. We would shoot the film during day and open the fort for the public during night. We shot there for 6 to 7 days and then achieved what Mr Nolan wanted to.

Similarly, for Tenet it was very challenging to shoot here in Mumbai. Without the support of the Maharashtra government we could not have achieved what we did. The government got us all the permits for shooting at a landmark location like Gateway of India. We had a huge crew of over 1,500 people and a part of the Gateway of India was frozen.

We cordoned off the area with the help of the transport department that diverted the traffic and we finished the shooting without any issue. The building where we were shooting was a high rise building and to light around 40 buildings around for a fortnight to shoot an action sequence was a mammoth task that was accomplished with the help of the state government, local crew and our international technicians. Mr Nolan left India on a very positive note.

How has India’s outlook changed vis-avis foreign productions

Some of the major changes include the ways the government supports the industry. There has been a significant change in the government mindset and now they are more forthcoming in inviting international filmmakers to come and shoot in India.

Earlier, government officials were quiet skeptical and used to be very critical about film productions. Even the Information and Broadcasting Ministry permissions used to take anywhere between 6 to 14 weeks and we had to make many rounds to Delhi. But now the production process has really eased off with the government taking it very positively.

Also, earlier we used to bring a lot of crew from abroad as the local crew was not very efficient. But now any international company brings only the key members while the rest of the crew is sourced from India itself. Also, they used to come with a lot of equipment. There used to be a ‘J-Visa’ for filmakers and crew that was complicated and confusing because the J-Visa was mainly for journalistic work in India. Also, the visa process was time consuming. Now the government has introduced a new category of visa called Film Visa which is very easy to get and the process is quite transparent.

Filming in India – Dileep Singh Rahtore, Pickle Media

Visible changes after the formation of Film Facilitation Office

The government set up the Film Facilitation Office as an example to give foreign filmmakers confidence that they can come and shoot in India. The role of Film Facilitation Office has been very important as they did all the heavy lifting and worked as hard as us when we were shooting for Tenet. The FFO helped us get all the permissions, whether it was from the Aviation Ministry, Defense Ministry or Information and Broadcasting Ministry. They were working very closely with us shoulder to shoulder. They also played a key role in making all the right introductions and coordinated with the state government to get all the clearances.

Three things that attract global productions to India

The first is story, the second is locations and the third most important thing is the dollar value, as shooting as also the skill set in India is a lot cheaper than many other countries. We can build a lot of sets at cheaper, rates. The day India becomes as expensive as any other place, fewer people would come to shoot here. They will only come if the story is related with India or for an interesting location.

Thoughts on incentivize filming and Co-production Treaties

The incentive plan is not there yet but talks are going on. Almost two years back in Goa, a lot of states like like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat talked about incentives. They have incentives for local filmmakers but I don’t think there is any significant incentive for international filmmakers. We are in talks with the Rajasthan Government and Uttar Pradesh Government but I don’t think there is anything in place as of now.

Shooting in Indian states

Every state now is connected to the FFO office in Delhi, which has placed nodal a officer in every state. I think they are all coordinating. Recently, I got in shooting in their respective states? touch with the FFO office for scouting filming locations and they were very happy to help me in connecting with a lot of people. They are making a coordinated effort to ensure that everybody is together on the same page.

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