Karan Johar willing to shoot in scenic South Africa

Durban, Sep 6 (IANS) He has visited the city for the first time and is yet to explore it, but Karan Johar, one of the top filmmakers in Bollywood, says he is open to shoot in the country, which offers a great combination of scenic beauty and infrastructure.

"South Africa offers exquisite locations that our celluloid world has already witnessed, and it has tremendous infrastructure for film production," Karan, who is here to host the first edition of the South Africa India Film and Television Awards (SAIFTA), told IANS.

Karan said he would "definitely" like to shoot in the country, known for its natural beauty, and which has a large Indian Diaspora.

"The combination of the two factors -- the inherent beauty of the place, coupled with the infrastructure and their keenness for us to visit -- will definitely result in something great," said the filmmaker, known for shooting in the US and Britain.

"In fact, the film that was immensely popular this year - 'Aashiqui 2' - was also shot here ... I hope industry leverages (the opportunities here)," added the 41-year-old who has helmed hits like "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai", "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" and "Student Of The Year".

Karan not only directs movies but also produces films under his banner Dharma Productions. "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani", his last production venture, rocked the box office.

"Hasee Toh Phasee", "Gori Tere Pyaar Mein" and "2 States" are some of the forthcoming films from his stable.

Any chance of shooting any sequence for these films in South Africa?

Taking a pragmatic view of the changing scenario of filmmaking process in the Hindi film industry, Karan pointed out that "right now the ethos of our cinema is such that an outside song in an exquisite location has stopped happening".

"It has to be integrated in the story and location and, hopefully, we can do just that," he added.

The Indian-origin community in South Africa numbers around 1.5 million. About 80 percent of the Indian community lives in the province of KwaZulu Natal, about 15 percent in the Gauteng (previously Transvaal) area and the remaining 5 percent in Cape Town.

The idea behind SAIFTA, organised by Mumbai-based event management company Celebrity Locker in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism of Durban, is to enhance the exchange of cultural elements of the Indian and South African entertainment industries.

Asked about the benefits of SAIFTA, Karan promptly said: "A platform like this spreads awareness. It makes the Indian film fraternity aware of the potential of South Africa and it enhances our cinema when we come to South Africa. So, it is a win-win situation for us."

"What is glorious and great is that there will be a meeting point of two cultures on this platform SAIFTA - talents from Indian and South Africa will perform on the same stage," added Karan, who will co-host the awards event with actress Dia Mirza Friday.

(Arpana can be contacted at arpana.s@ians.in)

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