Slumdog star bring Bollywood to Bolton 

30/06/09

Bolton is set to provide the backdrop for Slumdog Millionaire star Mahesh Manjrekar’s next production.

Film director Mahesh, who played gangster Javed Khan in the multi-Oscar winning movie, came to the Northern town this week to scout locations for his next blockbuster.

He announced he would be shooting his next film in Bolton at the British Deputy High Commissioner’s residence in Mumbai, during a trade mission in February - an event that was part of a North West trade mission, organised by UK Trade and Investment and led by officials from Bolton Council.

During the mission, Mahesh was persuaded by local restaurateurs Subhash and Geeta Kotecha that Bolton was the best place for his latest film.

Mahesh was joined on the trip by the film’s producer and Ieading Indian business man Agnelorajesh Athaide, who runs an IT company in Mumbai and is looking to forge links with the University of Bolton, and prominent businessman and councillor from the Indian state of Maharashtra, Sudhakar Chavan.

The trio took in sights including the Grade II listed town hall, which has previously doubled up as a Romanian courthouse in Channel 4’s Shameless, the multi-million pound refurbished Market Place shopping centre and award-winning Bolton Market.

They also visited the Lake District and Cumbria to scout other potential locations.

Mahesh has directed and produced many critically acclaimed films including Vaastav and Astitva and plans to shoot his next production in the Marathi language, which is a native dialect of India and spoken by 120 million people.

Mahesh said: “I’ve been to the UK a few times and I’ve heard of Bolton because of the Wanderers but it’s my first visit here. It’s a beautiful place and the architecture of the town hall is outstanding. The people are very friendly and I would like to use some local people in the film, which is about a love story between an elderly couple.”

Councillor John Byrne, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Development, Regeneration and Skills, said the council was keen to build on Bolton’s film-friendly reputation.

He added: “All filming requests are facilitated by the council. From Coronation Street to Life of Mars, Bolton has hosted a number of major productions. Bollywood attracts avid followers all over the world with its hugely colourful extravagant song and dance routines and it’s very exciting that Mahesh has chosen to shoot his film here.

“We’ve got lots to offer to TV and filmmakers, from the stunning Victorian splendour of the town hall, to the wealth of unspoilt countryside. Also, our excellent road, rail and air links are ideal for film crews.”

Kaye Elliott, Director of Production Services and Locations at Northwest Vision and Media, said: “Bolton is a really popular location for filming with a wealth of exciting locations on offer. Bolton Council is incredibly film friendly which has helped to attract lots of productions to the region.

“It’s really exciting that we have an Indian production filming in Bolton and it’s the first significant Bollywood project coming to the North which is a real coup from a UK perspective. I expect we’ll see more and more Indian productions coming to the UK and it’s great that Bolton is at the forefront of that,” she added.

Film producer Agnelorajesh Athaide said: “The North West delegation who attended Mumbai really motivated us and made us bring this film to Bolton. We were particularly inspired by the vision of individuals like Keith Davies, the council’s director of development and regeneration and officers like Sikandar Badat. It was specifically because of them that we chose to bring the film here.”

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Salma Nakhuda
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