HYDERABAD: Railways, they say is the lifeline of India and movie makers taking a cue from the line are making a beeline to Andhra Pradesh’s railway stations with a camera crew in tow.
The state which has some scenic railway stations, is witnessing an increased preference among production houses, preferring to shoot at the age-old stations these days.
Having witnessed an upward trend last year in the number of film shoots at railway stations and those featuring trains, South Central Railway (SCR) authorities are buoyed and are hoping that 2013 will see more trains chugging into Tollywood and also help them rake in more revenue.
Till the late 1990s, films were regularly shot at rail stations, but once Ramoji film city came up, production houses flocked to the artificial settings. But with new-age film makers keen on realism, they are coming back to AP stations, much to the delight of the railways.
Authorities granted permission to 20 films in 2012 of which eight used a special train provided by the authorities exclusively for movies. The films earned the railways Rs.75.4 lakh as against Rs 64.8 lakh earned in 2011, when 15 films were permitted by SCR.
This month, shooting is already underway for two movies and the weekend saw Ravi Teja starrer Balupu being shot at Lingampalli railway station.
“Every movie has a train which viewers easily recognize. A set may not be able to offer genuine railway experience which film buffs can easily identify with. Besides film-makers from within the state, production houses from Chennai are also approaching us,” said chief public relations officer K Sambasiva Rao.
“Kacheguda for a city setting and Vikarabad for a rustic background are the preferred locations,” he said. The railway authorities were approached by Chennai-based production houses for six films last year. In April, Tamil movie Biryani was shot at the Kacheguda railway station, which is most sought-after, due to its heritage structure.
The industry concurs with these observations. Film director Teja, who in 2002 made the Telugu blockbuster Jayam, noted for its songs featuring trains, said the desire for authenticity pushes a film-maker to shoot at railway premises, despite procedural difficulties.
“Every individual connects with a train. Despite improvement in visual effects, the keen film-maker opts for a real railway station and train if authenticity is utmost desired,” he said, adding that nowadays getting permission for film shoots using trains has become a daunting process.
“For the train experience, we have no choice but to shoot at railway station. We can just show a standard coach on a set, but cannot show trains like MMTS,” said producer Suresh Babu, adding “We are likely to see a lot of stories involving Metro Rail once it is launched”.
A production house submits the portion of the script which involves trains or railways to officials who check to make sure that the scenes do not cause passenger inconvenience and do not portray railways in bad light.
For shooting on railway premises without the use of train, the authorities charge a license fee ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh per day depending on the city or the location of the station.
If the script demands, a special five coach train is arranged at a cost of Rs 2.2 lakh a day. Above that, a refundable security deposit of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh has to be furnished.
“Nowadays, we issue permissions within a week All hassles to procure permissions have been addressed which is drawing production houses from other states. Manpower is given where required to film units and one of our staff is always there during the shoot,” said CPRO Rao.