Bora Bora, a honeymooners’ paradise

A romantic film location in waiting
/ Kolkata
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As a major international tourism and filming destination, this French Polynesian island in the South Pacific has been talked about, but not explored by many Indians, except perhaps a few rich honeymooners.

About a decade ago, a small island in the South Pacific made the headlines of Indian filmy gossip magazines as the then premiere couple of Bollywood Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan flew to the French island named Bora Bora for their famous honeymoon.

Before this star honeymoon, just a few Hollywood buffs in India knew that 1962’s Marlon Brando blockbuster Mutiny on the Bounty was shot in this beautiful island, besides other hit films and TV series.

Bora Bora is a small island group of Tahiti of French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France, famous for its luxury resorts. Romantics from around the world appreciate Bora Bora, where the lush tropical slopes and valleys of Mount Otemanu blossom with hibiscus, while many palm-covered motu (small islet) circle the illuminated lagoon like a delicate pearl necklace. It is only 30 km in circumference and the biggest settlement, Vaitape, is on the western side of the main island.

The white-sand Bora Bora beaches leading to Matira Point give way to blue waters where tropical coloured fish animate the coral gardens and giant manta rays glide leisurely past. Luxury resorts and spas dot the island with overwater bungalows, thatched-roof villas with a fabled ambience.

Set on one of the most crystal-clear lagoons in the world, coloured in a million shades of blue, Bora Bora has a host of activities in store – fishing, cruising, jet-skiing, snorkelling, diving, kite-boarding, paddle-boarding, outrigger canoe rides, kayaking, island tours and many more. Simply put, Bora Bora is one of those beautiful islands Bollywood location hunters always dream of.

A French Polynesia tourist visa is required Indians. Getting to Bora Bora from India is not very difficult, but definitely expensive, in the absence of direct flights. However, Bora Bora is well connected to the world with an extensive network of flights and cruise liners.

To reach Bora Bora, you need to fly to Faa’a International Airport at Papeete on the main island of Tahiti. Direct flights are available from Tokyo, Auckland, Los Angeles, and Paris among others. From Papeete, Air Tahiti flies to the small islet, Motu Mute, located to the north of the main island of Bora Bora. This inter-island flight is about 50 minutes and there are minimum five daily flights. The Air Tahiti flight to Bora Bora is inclusive of a 25-minutes’ catamaran ride to the hotels. Limited cruise liners are available from a few locations, including Southampton, Auckland and California.

And because of its excellent locales and great connectivity, mass movement with chartered flights or fully booked cruises from the nearest port is a lucrative affair for a Bollywood company from the compact and exclusive production point of view.

Since the early 1930s, many film crews have come to Tahiti and especially Bora Bora to shoot various hit films, making the island famous. Friendly Polynesians, cultural experiences, signature overwater bungalows, fresh food inspired by French cuisine and lagoon activities in a pristine environment are just a few of the many reasons to consider this island for a shoot.

The list of reasons is quite long why Bollywood producers might find Bora Bora worth-trying. Besides the breathtaking landscape, it has a year-round tropical climate, world-class accommodations and most importantly a 30 pc tax rebate on international TV & movie productions.

As it has frequently served as a film location, Bora Bora has lots of local professionals and experienced crew. Also, the import of equipment is very easy and no permits needed for shooting unless it obstructs a public place. Moreover, there are no union quotas. Producers are free to come and shoot with their own crew or hire local people as per their requirements.

The tourism board helps the film crew with local research; assists with preliminary scouting; provides assistance in all logistics liaison with the local production companies, crew, suppliers and the community. French Polynesia is safe, with very strong rules of security, hygiene and health.

When film shooting will resume in full force, Bollywood location hunters will be in need of quieter no-nonsense locations where they can quickly wrap up the schedule and pack up with minimum engagements. Since there is no dearth of money for the big-budget productions in India, especially in Mumbai and in the south, they will search for places where there is less trouble and at the same time, they are able to offer something new to the audience. Sooner the unchartered destinations like Bora Bora figure this out and become active in attracting the film crews, better for the tourism industry at large.

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