London mayor in Bollywood: India, UK to collaborate for $ 150 million TV production

The London Mayor yesterday kicked off his first official tour to three Indian cities beginning from the commercial capital of the country. He will also visit Delhi and Amritsar with a view to strengthen London’s trade ties. As part of his six-day visit to South Asia, he will also visit Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad to seek bilateral ties related to his LondonIsOpen for business campaign.

“We are looking to foster new and meaningful ties, not only in business but also in areas like education and culture,” Khan said.

Referring to thriving Indian diaspora in the British capital, he said, “London’s Indian diaspora has been a huge contributor, be it in the areas of technology, finance, art or culture”.

As part of the business delegation, 20 high performing business to business start-ups are visiting the country.

Similarly, there will be 20 Indian start-ups chosen annually, as part of the India Emerging Twenty (IE20) program launched by the business and promotional agency of the Mayor’s office, London & Partners (L&P).

The IE20 provides a global platform to the top 20 upcoming global Indian organizations and offers them worldwide visibility.

But the big hammer announcement yesterday by Sadiq Khan was the biggest-ever TV co-production between London and India – a remake of The Far Pavilions, based on the novel by British author MM Kaye. The co-production worth £113 million ($150 million) will be produced by Beautiful Bay Productions (Indian-based producer Michael Ward and UK-based producer Colin Burrows) and will feature the best of Indian on-screen talent.

The unique collaboration will be produced by a creative crew including both Indian and British technicians. Post-production for the high-end drama will be based in London, the center for VFX (visual effects) and post-production facilities.

The Far Pavilions was written by Kaye in 1978. It tells the story of an Englishman brought up as a Hindu during the British Raj, and his passionate love for an Indian princess. It was turned into a three-episode mini-series in 1984, starring Ben Cross, Amy Irving, Omar Sharif and Christopher Lee. The 2018 remake will be much longer – running to 30 episodes of one hour each.

The Mayor made this announcement in Mumbai during the UK-India Year of Culture. He met prominent British people working in Bollywood, highlighting the longstanding cultural ties between the two film capitals of London and Mumbai.

He also met Bollywood stars at an industry dinner hosted by Mukesh Ambani. At the bash, Khan referred to Katrina Kaif as a “British Bollywood superstar”, Amitabh Bachchan as “Godfather” and hailed Shah Rukh Khan as “the legendary actor” in the caption of a selfie– and made sure to invite every filmmaker in the room to shoot in London.

More than 1000 films are produced in India every year, making it one of the biggest producers of films in the world. London is the third biggest film-making city in the world after LA and New York with an average of 40 crews filming in London’s streets every day. Around 20 Indian films have been shot in London in the last 12 months.

Khan added, “UK and India’s film and TV industries have a long, proud tradition of working together. I’m delighted to announce this landmark collaboration on The Far Pavilions. It represents the best of British and Indian talent and sends a clear message to the rest of the world that London is open to partnerships, to collaboration, to creativity and for business.”

The Mayor also caught up with Sachin Tendulkar and his wife, Anjali at the Bollywood bash, discussing the future of London as a sporting capital of the world and how the cricketing legend can contribute to said plans.

During his trip, the mayor also bated for change in UK govt’s visa policy.

Khan said they are preparing a proposal for revising policies like “for post-study work visas”.

“We are putting together a proposal to the government, to revise the policies like for post-study work visas,” Khan said at an event in Mumbai.

Reiterating his criticism of the stringent visa norms, Khan said he was “lobbying” with the British government to revise the visa policy to help attract more trade and investment to the UK capital.

Terming the visa policy of Theresa May government as a “huge mistake”, Khan said, “On the one hand the British government is asking Indian businesses to trade there and on the other hand they have made it more tough with strict visa norms”.

Recently, the Theresa May government changed its visa policy for non-EU (European Union) nationals to curb its soaring immigration figures. The policy which came into effect in November will affect a large number of Indians, especially IT professionals.

David Slater, Director of International Trade and Investment at London and Partners, today said the UK is among the top trade destinations for India, attracting up to 10 per cent of its investments.

He said the Mayor’s international business program was attracting investments from across the globe.

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