New Delhi, Sep 21: The Swiss Alps, the Scottish Highlands, British castles and Spanish beaches - these breathtaking European destinations have for long fascinated Indian filmmakers. Enter Slovenia, a tiny land nestled in central Europe that has just received the attention of Bollywood's overseas palette.
The first one to introduce this Adriatic jewel to Indian cinema is Telugu film "Nayak".
Filmmaker V.V. Vinayak, along with lead actors Ram Charan and Kajal Agrawal, shot song sequences in the postcard locales of Slovenia, which has a population of just over two million, this month. The stunning underground environs of Postojna caves, the medieval coastal town of Piran and the alpine resort town of Bled played the perfect backdrops for the duo's dance moves.
Zoran Jankovic, the mayor of the capital city of Ljubljana, gave the clap for the film's first shot.
"This is the first time that an Indian film was shot in Slovenia. In case of 'Nayak', local authorities were quite positive and attaining permissions for filming at popular spots was a smooth process," Indian Ambassador to Slovenia Jayakar Jerome told IANS in an email interview.
"My doors are open to all Indian citizens. I am prepared and willing to knock on the doors of local authorities in Slovenia if such endeavours serve the interest of Indian filmmakers, businessmen and citizens," he added.
According to Jerome, the country's beauty, connectivity, facilitation and cost-effectiveness are positives in attracting Bollywood and Indian regional cinema.
The local authorities in Slovenia feel there are several qualities that distinguish the picturesque country and should put it on the map of any Bollywood filmmaker.
"I am very pleased that India has finally discovered Slovenia. It's time for Indian cinema to feel Slovenia," Janez Fajfar, mayor of the beautiful city of Bled, told IANS.
"Wherever you travel in Slovenia, its nature is utterly imposing. Wherever you turn, everything is green. Wherever you go, a rapidly changing landscape presents enormous opportunities for filming," feels Masa Puklavec of the Slovenian Tourism Board.
For Jan Orsic, project coordinator at the Ljubljana Tourism Convention Bureau, Slovenia's USP is the abundance of contrasting scenery at short distances.
"Slovenia is safe, comes under the Schengen visa regime, offers very good value for money and is authentic. Most importantly, we have a very good and widespread fluency of English," he added.
Pointing to the smooth facilitation provided by local authorities in the country, an official of the Slovenian tourism ministry said: "During the recent shooting of 'Nayak', we provided quick permissions and single window clearances to the requests from the film crew."
(Kunja Joshi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)