An adrenaline-packed, opening sequence in Skyfall with James Bond Daniel Craig dangerously perched on top of a train in a fight to nab the bad guy became famous among diehard Bond fans. Well, this train fight scene was to be filmed in India. But the railways ministry withheld permission as it did not want the country to be shown in “poor light”.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, one of the highest-grossing films in the franchise’s history, was supposed to be partially shot in India. But, a list of conditions which were laid down by the railway ministry, and the dangers of shooting in narrow streets of chaotic Mumbai, had forced the producers to drop the idea. This was a major disappointment for the director, Sam Mendes, who then shot the train sequence in Turkey and the market chase in Istanbul.
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In a 2014 discussion in Parliament, the then Union Minister of Railways, Dinesh Trivedi had shared that he had placed three conditions before Skyfall’s producers before giving them the green signal to shoot on a train in India. One is that they will not show passengers in India travelling on the roofs of trains, secondly that there would be no compromise with safety during the shoot; and James Bond would have to sign up as a brand ambassador for Indian Railways.
“As per the third condition, which was only added in jest, James Bond would be required to say that ‘Indian Railways is stronger than James Bond,” Trivedi had said, reported Hindustan Times.
But the producers pointed out that Bond would be fighting on top of a train, otherwise why would they even come to India? Trivedi stuck to his demand not to show India in a poor light and with neither side refusing to back down, the idea to shoot in India was shelved. Though, permissions to shoot in Daryaganj, Sarojini Nagar market and Ansari Road in Delhi had already been obtained. Indian fans lost out on the thrill of having that shot filmed in their country.
The Bond franchise is extremely popular in India, and is dubbed and released in Indian languages in theatres and on television. The 1983 Bond film, Octopussy was the first 007 film to be partly set and shot in India. The 13th in the series – it was shot extensively at a palace in Udaipur in India, and starred Indian tennis star Vijay Amritraj and actor Kabir Bedi, with the royals of Mewar laying out a red carpet to the film crew. Previous attempts to shoot Moonraker in the country also came a cropper.
The release of No Time to Die, the latest Bond film, which is to be Daniel Craig’s swan song with the series, has been postponed repeatedly in India due to the pandemic.