Johannesburg | The history of Mahatma Gandhi’s tenure in South Africa and the life of Nelson Mandela are to be recreated in Durban as experiences for tourists as part of a massive film studio project.
Internationally acclaimed South African-Indian movie mogul Anant Singh announced today that this would be part of his development plans to make his company VideoVision’s Durban project as popular as the one that has been running successfully in Cape Town for several years now. If you look at Universal Studios or any of the international developments that are similar, they have the film side; but then they also have the historical side, Singh said.
What we want to do in Durban, like we have successfully done in our Cape Town development, is to build a Robben Island section on the mainland. So we’ll build Robben Island here, and also the Gandhi experience of his journey in South Africa from when he arrived and especially his activities in this province, he said.
Robben Island was the prison where Mandela spent most of his 27 years as a political prisoner before becoming South Africa’s first democratically elected President following decades of white minority apartheid rule. Gandhi developed his Satyagraha philosophy while fighting oppression during his tenure in South Africa as a lawyer before returning to India and leading its independence struggle.
Although the emphasis will be on production by western filmmakers, Singh said the studios would also open up new opportunities not just for the Bollywood film industry, but also for local talent among the 1.4 million Indians living in South Africa, more than two-thirds of whom live around the Greater Durban region.
Bollywood movies production are slowly coming to South Africa and they will have a nice incentive for local shooting which they have not utilised extensively, like the western filmmakers have, Singh said. There is opportunity in Durban with the local population that we have got here, including the pool available of Indian dancers and actors.
It is something that I feel can grow and develop, Singh added. The venture is expected to add to the popular tourism belt along the Durban beachfront, where the Durban film studios will be built right in the middle of existing tourism sites which starts with a huge marine aquarium and includes an entertainment casino complex that has the largest screens in South Africa showing Bollywood movies.
The project will get under way early next year with studio sound stages, with the liberation heroes’ attractions expected to be completed by the end of 2016.