From three-four shoots per year few years back, the number of film shoots in Delhi University, particularly North Campus , has gone up to 10-12 in a year in recent times. And it’s the easy permission process which is the main reason behind this jump. As Jatin Narwal, who was the DCP North for the last one-and-a-half years or so (he has recently been transferred), confirms, “In last two years, the number of film shootings has doubled in DU. We have given permission to around 10-12 projects in one year.”
DU is quite popular among filmmakers and we have ensured that we give quick permissions too.” And it’s not just Bollywood, even international production houses are coming to North Campus to shoot their films. The line producers say that it’s the charm of the red bricks and ‘angrezon ke zamane wali building’ that appeals to the filmmakers the most.
‘Even if it’s a cliche, but the red bricks and angrezon ke zamane ki building attract filmmakers’
Earlier, it was usually filmmakers from Delhi like Anurag Kashyap, Maneesh Sharma, Imtiaz Ali and Dibakar Banerjee, who used to come back to the capital and shoot their movies in DU. But now, it’s not just the Delhi directors. The last three-four years have seen a shift in trend with many Bollywood filmmakers coming to DU for shooting.
Navneet Singh, a line producer, who had organised shooting of ‘Raazi’, says, “Maybe it’s a cliche or might even look like a tourist trap, but the red-brick building seems synonymous with Delhi University. That’s why directors want to capture this aspect of Delhi. Also, DU has a blend of the modern and the traditional and it can provide rich visuals. Hence, as visually there’s a lots of greenery – filmmakers want to shoot in Delhi. We shot in Miranda House because we had to create a setting of the ’70s and the campus provided us with that ambience.”
North Campus Vs South Campus
For filmmakers shooting in DU mainly means shooting in the North Campus. Ravi Sarin, a line producer who was part of the shooting of ‘Mom’ at SRCC, says, “It’s the architecture of the colleges of North Campus that attracts filmmakers. College toh South Campus mein bhi hai, par wahan ki shooting ke liye demand kam aati hai. The number of film shooting in North Campus has jumped in the last two years and the fact that shoot permission is given without any hassle has only added to the popularity.”
When we asked the south Delhi police officials, they agreed and told us that they haven’t given permission for shooting of a single film in last couple of years in South Campus because “there were no requests.”
Why easy police permission counts a lot?
Javed Khan, a line producer, who had organised the shooting of ‘Half Girlfriend’ at St Stephen’s, says that easy police permission matters a lot. He explains, “Unlike colleges of Noida, police permission is mandatory to shoot in DU. If we have a shoot in a Noida college, whether we will take police permission or not depends on how popular the stars are, or whether we are doing an outdoor shoot, in case of which we might think of seeking permission. But it’s not mandatory. But to shoot at any college of Delhi University, the administration first asks us to get police permission. That’s why police co-operation matters a lot in DU. And because the police is more shooting -friendly now, the number of film shoots has also gone up in North Campus.”
‘Now, colleges are open to shooting, and so are the police”
Earlier, shooting in DU was not as easy a task. In fact, for a film like ‘No One Killed Jessica’, the entire DU had to be created at the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University because of permission hassles.
What has changed now? Informs Jatin Narwal, “Film shooting is less of a hassle now and people have realised that nothing helps in boosting the popularity of a place than shooting there. As both the college authorities and line producers ensure that the film is either shot during holidays or on a weekend, the crowd control is no more an issue. When a college agrees to give its campus for film shooting, we give quick permission.”
RP Singh, a line producer say,” “We chose the summer break or holidays for production as there are fewer students on the campus at that time. And when it’s a mid-semester shoot, then we do it on a Saturday or a Sunday.”
What it costs to shoot in DU?
Talking about the cost of shooting in DU, Javed Khan says, “The colleges of DU don’t ask for location charge, but donation. For one day, the donation for colleges like LSR, SRCC, Miranda is fixed between Rs1-1.5 lakh, for Stephen’s it’s Rs1.5 lakh, for Stephen’s it’s Rs1.5 lakh and above. When it comes to colleges like Lady Irwin, which are not in North Campus, they ask for about Rs.75,000. While it costs less to shoot in Noida colleges, DU’s ambience and setting mean that more filmmakers want to shoot in Delhi.
However, when it especially comes to small budget films, line producers feel that if the donation charges are lowered, DU will be able to attract more shoots. Giving an instance, Rakashree Basu, a line producer, who shot an Indo-Danish film in Miranda House in February this year, says, “We completed our shoot without any hassles. However, the charges are quite high to shoot in DU colleges. The Scandinavian projects have a challenging budget unlike Hindi movies, hence it becomes a bit difficult.” The line producer suggests that if the charges are lowered DU might attract more filmmakers, especially small-budget ones, and 12 could even become 24.
It’s not just police permission that’s required to shoot in DU, but police protection is also needed. And the cost of hiring Delhi Police constables and head constables is Rs1,465, per cop, per day. And for an average shoot, at least 10 policemen are needed. Also, the presence of female police personnel is a must. As Navneet Singh says, “Even if we are shooting in an auditorium and we don’t need 10-12 cops, but a woman constable’s presence is mandatory. We can’t ask girls to not come in the shooting area, ladkon ko toh hum log handle kar lenge but the presence of a lady cop is a must, regardless of whether the shoot is happening in a boys’ or girls’ college.”
~ Preksha Mishra
Reported by The Times Of India