With "Half Girlfriend" becoming the first Bollywood movie to be filmed at the United Nations headquarters here, a senior UN official expressed hope this will open "a floodgate of interest" from the Indian film industry for collaborations with the world body on future projects.
Mohit Suri-directed "Half Girlfriend", which stars Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, is based on Chetan Bhagat's novel of the same name. It shows Arjun working as an intern at the United Nations.
"We are excited. This was the first Indian project. What I really hope that it is going to open a floodgate of interest from Bollywood to know not only that you can come onsite at the United Nations but that we can collaborate in many ways," Jeffrey Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy & Special Events at the United Nations, told PTI in an interview.
Brez pointed out that even if movie makers don't want to shoot at the UN but are making a project about issues the world body focuses on such as girls education, poverty eradication and climate change, "we are very interested in collaborating."
"We are not storytellers, so we will not try and put our fingers into your story. That's not the way we work. We just want to put UN resources at your fingertips," he said.
Brez added that what excited him and his team about "Half Girlfriend" was the issue of girls education and lack of toilets, which are among the focus areas of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals.
"The main thing that was exciting for us (about 'Half Girlfriend') was the issue of girls education and that girls sometimes cannot access education because of the lack of bathrooms and toilets.
"That was already a part of their story and so we were very eager to find a way for them to bring a scene to the UN and we worked with them on this," he said.
Jon Herbertsson, Manager, Creative Community Outreach Initiative at the UN Department of Public Information said the film was shot at three main locations - outside the Secretariat building at the UN, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber and in an intern work area on the 29th floor.
"Bollywood films are different from Hollywood films and just their reach for us is very appealing," he said.
The UN has been the focus of several documentaries and TV shows and the 2005 Nicole Kidman-starrer political thriller "The Interpreter" was extensively shot at the UN.
Brez added that the UN as a platform for storytelling has a global appeal.
"We want the opportunity to tell stories on thematic issues like poverty, environment, renewable energy, climate and we can help provide accurate information about what the UN is doing across the world. I think people would find it very interesting," he said.
The Creative Community Outreach initiative was created in 2009 and acts as a liaison between the UN and studios, producers, directors, writers and other content creators.
It facilitates filming at UN locations and assists with research on UN issues and storylines.
Brez said in allowing a project to be filmed at the UN, the criteria is accuracy.
"Our criteria is that (the content) should be accurate. We are not censoring the content, we are not saying (you are welcome to film at the UN only) if you want to tell something nice about the UN. It's about accuracy," Brez said.