Big-budget Bollywood flick pulls out of Miami
BY DOUGLAS HANKS
Miami's new role as Bollywood West will have to wait.
The Indian movie that was slated to bring Bollywood's biggest star to Miami scratched plans to shoot in South Florida, citing production costs, film officials said Monday.
Ra.One would have been a major coup for South Florida's film industry given its leading man: Shahrukh Khan, dubbed ''the world's biggest movie star'' by Newsweek magazine two years ago. It would have been the second Bollywood movie brought to South Florida in two years, following production of the 2008 blockbuster Dostana.
But while Dostana enjoyed the low costs of a romantic comedy, Ra.One would be Bollywood's first big-budget superhero movie. Ra.One producers hired a West Coast stunt team and planned a series of car crashes, high-speed chases and at least one helicopter landing as the title villain, Ra, terrorizes Brickell Avenue and other Miami locales.
The higher costs would be more of a challenge, since Ra.One failed to secure the more than $400,000 in state film subsidies Dostana won. And production unions were pressuring Ra.One to pay union wages, rather than the much lower salaries the Indian crew earns when filming on location in the United States.
''The unions just wouldn't budge,'' said Robert Parente, head of Miami's film office. A call placed to the main production union, IATSE, was not immediately returned Monday afternoon.
Bollywood Hollywood has closed its Miami office and begun production in Mumbai, India. Local casting agents had already begun filling the small speaking roles Ra.One needed for non-Indian actors.
''I had 300 extras on hold waiting for it,'' said Sherry Reichert, president of the EEE Talent Agency in Boynton Beach.
Jeff Peel, head of Miami-Dade's film office, said producers suggested there was still a small chance Ra.One could return to South Florida after shooting in India this spring.
''What we're hearing is it's not dead,'' Peel said.http://www.miamiherald.com/business/story/1457942.html