Destination India : The Business of Foreign Productions in India
By Dileep Singh Rathore
On The Road India & Kundalini Pictures LLC
In this episode of Industry Spotlight with Creative First, Lohita Sujith, Sr. Director, Digital Economy, Motion Picture Association interviewed veteran filmmaker & founder of On the Road India, a production company servicing international films shot in India and South Asia, Dileep Singh Rathore.
With more than thirty years of experience, Dileep is truly the ambassador of India to the international filmmaking community. He explained that being from Rajasthan, he was exposed to this world of films while still a student. However, he credited Shashi Kapoor with bringing him to Mumbai after working on the 1988 film, Deceivers, in Rajasthan.
After working in every aspect of filmmaking, including on screen, Dileep decided that he was most intrigued by the physical production of a film
Just before the pandemic, Dileep’s company worked on Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which shot in Mumbai. He reminisced about having more than 1500 people on set in 2019, and how that all changed dramatically with the pandemic.
He pointed out that international films are using more local resources than they did in the past. For example, films used to bring every last crew member from their home country, as well as things like lights. Now, according to Dileep, international films are more local crew members and renting equipment locally. All of this contributes to a local economy.
One point that Dileep could not stress more was the importance of ease of business when it comes to attracting international films. He pointed out that due to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international films cannot pay bribes should anything go wrong. He used The Beach, shot in Thailand, as a prime example. When a shooting issue came up, the production company had to pay immense fines to the Thai government.
Events like this make international companies weary of shooting in a place like India, Dileep explained, which is why he highlighted ease of business as an important aspect when it comes to international production.
Lohita brought up the interesting fact that the Canadian city of Vancouver markets itself as a city that can look like any city the script requires. Dileep concurred that versatility of location is an important selling point. Rather than simply relying on scripts that demand an Indian location such as a fort or a palace, India must be able to mask itself as any location in the world. Dileep shared some of his past experiences wherein international movies shot scenes portraying Afghanistan, Africa, Mexico, and even Munich all right here in India.
In addition to ease of business, and India’s ability to mask itself as any location, Dileep also added government support as a key point to help attract international film shoots.
India is still a cost effective option for international films, and focusing on these three points can really help this industry grow.
Before leaving the interview, Dileep shared that we can see his most recent work in Aquaman and Shantaram.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dileep Singh Rathore
Dileep is a well-known Producer and production expert in the Indian and South Asian region with over 30 years of International filmmaking experience handling international feature projects, award-winning documentaries, commercials, and high-end still projects around the world. In 1996 Dileep set up On The Road India (OTR), a Production Company servicing international projects filming in India and South Asia. In 2000, he moved to the United States to set up Los Angeles based production company Kundalini Pictures LLC in partnership with award winning Director Digvijay Singh. Dileep has been involved with several international projects like Christopher Nolan’s latest film “Tenet”, “Shantaram” Series for Paramount studios and Apple TV, Lilly The Witch: Journey to Mandolan, for Disney Germany, Point Break, London Has Fallen and Heartbeats among others. Dileep has also been invited to share his expertise at international panels such as at the American Film Market, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Screen Producers Australia (SPAA) and the Locations Expo hosted by the Association of Film Commissioners International. He has a Master of Arts in History, Politics and Economics from the University of Rajasthan and divides his time between Los Angeles, Europe, Mumbai, and Jaipur.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has released its recommendations on “Ease of Doing Business in Telecom and Broadcasting Sector”