Bollywood film island “just a concept”: Thoyyib

Reports that Bollywood has been invited to establish a film studio in the Maldives were erroneous, according to Minister of State for Tourism Arts and Culture Thoyyib Waheed, “as the idea is just a concept.”

Newspaper Miadhu reported Thoyyib as claiming during a press conference that the Maldives had “already proposed that one of the islands could be turned into a studio to shoot movies”, and that Bollywood industry could be solicited in the Maldives – “hopefully, it will materialise by next year.”

The prolific Mumbai-based Hindi-film studios eclipse Hollywood in terms of box-office receipts, churning out productions with budgets of up to US$20 million. The films are a strong cultural influence in the Maldives and visiting film stars like Salman Khan are given state receptions.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Thoyyib said he was referring to a call for expressions of interest (EOI) by Invest Maldives and the 100 percent government-owned Maldives Entertainment Company (MEC) in February, to develop the country’s entertainment infrastructure.

“It was a development concept – 6-7 parties put forward proposals but none were successful,” Thoyyib said.

According to the EOI statement, proposals sought by the government included entertainment complexes, “a theme park/amusement island”, multiplex cinema complexes, musical facilities and “a film-friendly island, dedicated to film shoots providing resources, state of the art equipment, resort style accommodation and other amenities for production teams, cast and crews producing feature films, documentaries, telemovies, mini-series, TV series, commercials, and music videos.”

The EOI statement predicted that “this new concept in full spectrum shoots will have strong appeal to Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond.”

Thoyyib commented that if a collaboration with Bollywood was achieved, the currently fledgling Indian sector of the Maldives tourism market “will definitely increase.”

Despite the proximity of the Maldives, Bollywood producers were shooting in Mauritius and the Seychelles “because we just don’t have the infrastructure in Maldives. We would need to provide an island with both low budget accommodation for the crew and upmarket accommodation blocks or villas [for the stars].”

No island had yet been earmarked for such an endeavor, he said.