Few things can stop James Bond, with the exception, perhaps, of Indian bureaucracy. Plans to film the latest James Bond sequel in India have been shelved, reportedly because the film's production company failed to reach a timely agreement with Indian Railways. By Preetika Rana
Originally, "Bond 23" was meant to include an action sequence filmed on the railway tracks in Sabarmati, in India's state of Gujarat, according to railway officials. Other rumored Indian locations included parts of Mumbai and Goa. Last month, spokespersons for the production companies, EON and their Indian partners Take One Productions, confirmed plans to film the Bond sequel in India but declined to provide further details.
But Bond will now be relocated elsewhere. "Bond will not be coming to India," said Parvesh Sahni of Take One Productions, according to the Times of India. Officials from EON and Take One Productions said they are not speaking to the press.
The report said EON productions cited "delayed permissions" as the reason for dropping plans to film in India, where shooting was meant to start in early 2012. The key clearances were meant to come from India's railways ministry.
Earlier this month, India Real Time spoke to railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, who confirmed talks to film Bond on railway locations were in advanced stages. He even expressed hope Bond starrer Daniel Craig would lend himself as the face of Indian Railways for an ad campaign. At this stage, this looks very unlikely to happen.
But Indian Railways have said this has nothing to do with them. In an interview with India Real Time, communications officer Chandralekha Mukherjee said that "Indian Railways has been more than cooperative in meeting demands laid by the production house." She said this was an "internal decision" of the production house, adding that costs and logistical concerns - and not the Indian Railways - are more likely to blame.
She said Indian Railways met most of the production house's key demands. Provisions were even made for a special train that Bond was meant to jump on with a motorcycle. She noted that necessary arrangements were finalized on Sept. 12 and that the sequence was set to be filmed in February, so "where is the delay?"
There were some exceptions. Instead of granting the production house permission to film for seven hours a day for a whole week, Indian Railways said they could film for only five days in a row, and make up for the remaining two days at different, staggered times, according to Ms. Mukherjee.
Parts of the movie may now be shot in South Africa. On hearing the news that Bond was facing bureaucratic delays in India, the top official of Cape Town's filming commission said his city would welcome "James Bond whenever he decides to visit us," according to Agence France-Presse.
Having lost a sponsor of the stature of James Bond, who is Indian Railways going to turn to now? It looks like they already have a few ideas. "Indian Sportsmen are the true face of the Indian Railways," Ms. Mukherjee said, without elaborating. "We don't need anyone else."