'Heyy Babyy', its Sydney in Indian caper

Aug 23, 2007 Neena Bhandari

Sydney, Aug 23 (IANS) A toast was raised to "Heyy Babyy", the first Bollywood production shot entirely in the Harbour City, by the Who's Who of Sydney just before the film's premiere in Mumbai Friday.

The European charm of the State Theatre came alive with Bollywood dance and music as guests clad in saris and Jodhpuri coats were given a red carpet welcome, strewn with flowers, to the beats of the traditional dholak.

As everything Indian, from cinema to cuisine becomes trendy here, for Indians, Australia is becoming a sought after destination for studying, travel, work and to migrate.

New South Wales Minister for Tourism Matt Brown described the film as "an invaluable promotional opportunity" for the state as India becomes the fastest-growing market for travel to Australia.

Brown said: "We expect a growth of more than 18 percent each year until 2016. Last year, around 45,800 Indians visited NSW, spending $115 million."

Specially welcoming 23 senior representatives from Indian travel companies and 10 inbound tour operators working in the Indian market, Brown said he was delighted that Sydney had a starring role in "Heyy Babyy" and would be seen by millions in India and around the world.

The film captures the ambience and flavour of this Harbour City of urban flair and modern panache that makes it such a hit for travellers and migrants.

It showcases the icons, Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Bondi Beach alongside the city's other attractions - Darling Harbour, the Rocks, Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, Kings Cross, Coogee Beach and the culturally vibrant suburb of Newtown.

John O'Neill, the NSW tourism executive director and general manager, said: "We have great opportunities to increase business between the two countries. The production of 'Heyy Babyy' is a very exciting initiative for NSW. Sydney's large Indian community - it numbers almost 53,000 - provides an important bridge between our two countries. Visits from Indian film crews, tourists, cultural groups and students are just some of the ways our two countries interact."

The silver lining in the not-so-clever remake of the Hollywood hit "Three Men and a Baby" is the backdrop of friendly and welcoming locales of this spectacular city.

Produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and directed by Sajid Khan, the film stars Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Fardeen Khan and Vidya Balan.

The film's line producer Anupam Sharma of Sydney-based Films and Casting TEMPLE said: "The production injected approximately AU$2million into the NSW state economy during the five-and-a-half week shoot and employed around 700 local people.

"These are creative Australian stories but with an Indian element, thus tapping a billion audience and enriching Australian storytelling and the Australian film industry."

The NSW state government supported the production of the film with Tourism NSW, the Department of State and Regional Development and the NSW Film and Television Office (FTO) providing extensive location advice and production assistance to the producers. The film is being distributed in mainstream cinemas here through Eros Australia.

As Indian films find their way into mainstream cinemas and joint Indian-Australian productions foster, Indian films are certainly become a "cool thing" Down Under.

"Production from India is a growing and important market for NSW and we will continue to work closely with India to promote NSW as a production destination," says NSW Film & Television office Chief Executive Officer, Tania Chambers.

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