Nikhil Advani's dream of making the first Bollywood film in China could only be partially realized. After a major part of the shooting, the director and his entire crew had to hastily leave China and look for an alternative place to shoot the rest of the film. If New York is being shot in Philadelphia, Chandni Chowk To China has been shot in Bangkok. And for good reason.
Says Nikhil, "It was the year of the Olympics in China and it became impossible beyond a point to shoot in the country where our film is based. Maybe a quieter less flamboyant film, but not the kind of action that Akshay has shot."
Apparently, the Olympics authorities found Akshay Kumar's athletic exertions to be a bit of an intrusion in the preparations for the grand international event. Says Nikhil, "Bangkok's topography is quite similar to China. Also, it's a very Bollywood-friendly country. So we just had to let go of the real country. Because the action scenes required Olympian skills and infrastructure."
Akshay Kumar had to battle it out with globally-known actors like Gordon Lieu who was in The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin and Roger Yuan, the main baddie in the Jackie Chan-starrer Shanghai Noon.
Adds Nikhil, "Gordon Lieu is a well-known name in Hollywood and Roger Yuan is the only Asian actor who works out of Bollywood. They both play arch-villains. Then I've a cast of actors who are stalwarts in China. They held on their own against Akshay, even when they were taken out of their home ground and put into Bangkok masquerading as China."
Incidentally, apart from Akshay, Mithun Chakraborty who was also quite an action star during his heydays has been given to do stunts in Chandni Chowk To China.
"Mithunda will kick some ass too. Action is the backbone of my film. While other films have item songs, Chandni Chowk To China has item-action. It's the action scenes that move the plot forward. The songs are extremely situational. I'm very lucky. I got Bappi Lahiri to re-do his Bambai Se Aaya Mera Dost. I think the music is a decent follow-up to my Salaam-e-Ishq.," the director reveals.