Threats that could kill off our multi-million euro film industry
They're bringing €1.5m into the country, creating more than 1,000 short-term jobs and spending hundreds of thousands of euro -- so why is a major Bollywood production being shot here facing protests that threaten to drive filmmakers away from Ireland for good?
IRELAND'S potential as a base for multi-million euro Bollywood movies is being jeopardised by a handful of industry protesters.
Two A-list actors have been left frightened by protests at the filming of a major movie in Dublin city centre, it has been claimed.
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, described as the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of the Indian movie scene, were said to be "frightened and worried" by the targeting of their filming sessions.
Fears have now been expressed that the disruption may hamper efforts to promote Ireland as a location for films.
Industry workers demonstrating over claims of poor pay and conditions picketed a weekend shoot of blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger beside the capital's Ha'penny Bridge on the North Quays.
Gardai were called to the scene after the 30 or more protesters allegedly used klaxon horns and other methods to ensure filming was seriously interrupted.
When the officers from Store Street left at around 2pm on Sunday, the demonstrators seized their chance and "went mad", it was claimed today.
"They started to shout and stick their placards across the wall at the crew and cast," one source told the Herald.
The filmmakers voiced concern that Mr Khan and Ms Kaif were "quite worried" and "quite frightened" by the situation, the insider said.
However, a shop steward for Irish film workers, John Arkins, rejected the claims, pointing out the shoot took place on All-Ireland final day when football fans were blowing horns and chanting.
Irish production company Fantastic Films told the Herald the firm had "worked long and hard" to bring Ek Tha Tiger to Ireland.
"The film is a high profile, Bollywood production that will reach an audience of over 100 million people in India, the Middle East and to the world wide Indian diaspora," a spokeswoman said.
She added: "The film is also being shot in Thailand, Turkey, Cuba and India. It's a wonderful opportunity to showcase all Ireland has to offer.
"It also platforms Ireland as a location to international filmmakers, as well as breathing life into the Irish film industry, creating jobs in Ireland and generating revenue for the Irish economy.
"The production is spending €1.5m in Ireland in the two-month period it is based here and has created in excess of 1,000 short-term jobs for Irish people.
"This includes more than 45 Irish film crew members. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of euro are being spent on Irish hotels, Irish catering and Irish transport."
Referring to the protests, the spokeswoman said "it is disappointing that the actions of a very small minority of people" would "jeopardise the reputation of Irish filmmaking internationally".
"They do not represent the majority of those who work full time in the Irish film industry," she added.
Shop steward Mr Arkins, who was at Sunday's protest, said the shoot took place in the city centre at a time when hundreds of Dublin and Kerry fans were passing.
"What sort of genius said 'let's film 100 metres from O'Connell Street on All-Ireland final day'? I was standing across the road. I witnessed the Viking tour bus blowing its horn, people blowing car horns -- that's what I witnessed," said Mr Arkins, who works as a stagehand.
He said the demonstrators were highlighting low rates of pay, long hours with no overtime and a lack of regulation within the Irish film industry.
Mr Arkins doubted the claims that the Bollywood stars were frightened, saying "you have hundreds and thousands" of fans "chasing these people around the streets" in India.
Filming of Ek Tha Tiger -- a spy-thriller featuring the Bollywood staples of music and dance -- will take place around Dublin until October 15, having started on September 11.
The storyline involves a world renowned scientist working at Trinity College who is suspected of selling missile technology secrets to Pakistan.
Vice-Provost for Global Relations at TCD, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, said: "The filming of Ek Tha Tiger at TCD is a great opportunity for us to increase our understanding of modern Indian culture and live the Bollywood experience here at Trinity."
The movie by one of India's most prominent film companies, Yash Raj Films, is being directed by the award-winning Indian director Kabir Kahn.
It is being co-produced by Fantastic Films and is expected to be released in June 2012.