Cinema tourism proving to be a hit in Kerala
Malayalam movie makers often choose overseas locales and foreign actors in the plot to retain the interest of the discerning audience. There have been many local language movies that feature foreigners as props. For the foreign backpackers who choose to act in these films, it is not just easy money but also a rare chance to mix business with pleasure and to hog the limelight on their Kerala holidays.
On a rough estimate, around 5,000 foreigners are selected every year to act in Malayalam movies that are shot in various places. Cochin is fast becoming the hub of this so called ‘Cinema Tourism’. The city alone has eight coordinators who provide foreigners for films and any director who wishes to cast foreign faces in their movies need only to get in touch with a coordinator. The director will provide the essential details like age and appearance of the prospective actor. Now it is the turn of the coordinator to honeycomb the various home stays (which are the popular accommodation options of backpackers) in and around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry to find someone suitable. Most of them will be wonder struck at first, but will give a try once the idea sinks into them, while some others reject the offers outright.
Once chosen, the foreigners can enjoy an extended holiday in some of the most picturesque spots in Kerala and neighbouring states like Munnar, Kovalam, Coimbatore or Ooty being part of the film crew. Recently a group of 15 foreign tourists donned the paint during the shooting of Neeko Njancha in Cherai beach. The foreigners will be paid at a rate of 2000 to 4000 INR per day apart from perks and accommodation options for outstation locations. If the tourists have to re draw their tour plan, they are also compensated with train or flight tickets to their next destination.
The trend of casting foreigners is not something new and it has been going on for many years now in Hindi and other Indian languages. Giselli Monteiro, Barbara Mori, Amy Jackson- the list of beauties from foreign shores that are playing key roles in Bollywood films is impressive indeed. However, some actors have come out against the obsession for Caucasian beauties of the film makers and the audience alike, which they feel will be detrimental to the local talents.
As the debate goes on, the movie crazy Kerala populace gets ready to endorse yet another thrilling movie featuring foreigners. Now, it will indeed be a special Kerala holiday for many of these foreigners as well for the arc lights and celebrity tag that go with it!