Of course I am not talking about the Indian cricket players’ performance in Australia. This is about Bollywood players’ mega-movie, Players, which opened to full house in Auckland.
Almost half of the movie is shot in Auckland and Wellington, which could be a factor of attraction for big audience numbers in Auckland; the first show on Friday was probably attended by the movie’s local crew in New Zealand.
While it is usual for Bollywood crowd to cheer at the first appearance of their favourite actor, Players got the Auckland audience clapping for the appearance of their favourite New Zealand city and the iconic Sky Tower.
To be sure, the story and screenplay, inspired by Gary Gray’s Hollywood blockbuster, The Italian Job, had audiences at the edge of their seats throughout the movie, except during the song sequences.
Directed by Abbas-Mastan, the brother duo known for dramatic movies like Baazigar, Race and China Town, the latest thriller features the racy story of a team of ‘players’ who successfully carry out an international robbery of gold moving on a train, only to fall apart as a group. What follows is a plot of love, betrayal and standing for a good cause, interspersed with situational comedy.
The movie does well in most departments of film-making except music, which leaves a lot to be desired.
Star-kids Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor don’t share the same chemistry they did in their previous movie Delhi 6. However, that doesn’t stop this drama-driven script from captivating the audience for the most part.
Pleasant surprise is debutante Sikandar Kher, son of Anupam Kher and Kiron Kher, who leaves a strong mark, despite being in a relatively short role and being surrounded by senior actors like Bobby Deol, Bipasha Basu and legendary Vinod Khanna.
Bipasha Basu lives up to her reputation of dusky Bengali beauty with envious body, strong screen presence and tantalising dance performance. Neil Nitin Mukesh does a convincing job of a Bollywood bad boy.
The movie was also shot in Russia and Goa, but it is the New Zealand segment that attracted the most attention of the audience.
While more than 120 crew were flown to New Zealand from India, a large number of local Kiwi talent got an opportunity to share the screen with Bollywood’s big wigs. Almost 500 Kiwi crew spent more than a month on the sets of the movie that saw about NZ$4 million spent locally.
New Zealand is not new to Sonam Kapoor who shot I Hate Luv Stories here last year, and attracted 150 million views worldwide, promoting New Zealand to a large global audience.
New Zealand attracts only 30,000 tourists from India and Tourism New Zealand hopes to grow those numbers by supporting Bollywood movies shot here.