Filmmakers prepare their lens on the iconic British residence in Hyderabad

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The iconic building revolves around the period drama of Kalyan Ram; other production houses are also showing interest

The iconic building revolves around the period drama of Kalyan Ram; other production houses are also showing interest

The 216-year-old British residence, which was recently opened to visitors after restoration, seems to have caught the eye of filmmakers here. Some scenes from the star of Kalyan Ram Devil are currently being filmed there and a few other production houses have also shown interest in using the iconic property for filming.

The carved pillars, ornate papier-mâché ceiling and oval ballrooms of Darbar Hall within can easily transport one back to colonial times, making it the perfect setting for a period drama like Devilwhose catchphrase is “The British Secret Agent” alluding to the role of the main star.

“This is the first film shot inside the building after renovation. Previously, we only granted permission for the external side. Devil’The program began on May 26 and is scheduled to end on June 7. Last week, representatives from two other production houses had come for a reconnaissance of the site,” said a source at the University College for Women in Koti, which houses the Residence building.

The daily fee for a film shoot is ₹3 lakh inside the Darbar Hall and ₹1.5 lakh outside the structure. The revenue generated will be used for the maintenance of the building, which was restored at a cost of ₹17 crore. “The interview requires a lot of money, and that’s why we give some for filming,” explains the public relations officer (PRO) of the college.

The building has been used extensively for film shoots over the years. For Nagarjuna’s Hello Brother (1994), the facade was shown as the High Court in the first frame, while the basement dungeons were shown as a prison complex in the latter part of the film.

Interested production houses apply for permission on the Telangana State Film Development Corporation website. “A one-stop customs clearance system is in place. The request is made to three parties – the state Department of Archaeology, the college and the New York-based World Monument Fund, which funded the restoration,” the PRO states.

A host of restrictions are imposed on the film crew. “When we give permission for shoots, we give them a list of do’s and don’ts. They can’t drag things around as this could scratch the inlaid wood flooring. They should put rubber pads under heavy equipment before lugging it around. If there is damage, there is a provision where we have to increase an estimate and they will pay the fine,” says on-site conservation architect Lithish Wesley.

When the residence is reserved for a film shoot, visitors are redirected to the interpretation center and the museum on the first floor by other entrances. “Attendance is slowly picking up, so we haven’t had to turn away any visitors due to filming. But, we have arrangements to guide them through alternative passageways so they can explore Darbar Hall without any problem,” adds a college official.

There are also plans to allow wedding and pre-wedding filming inside the residence building to keep the revenue stream flowing freely, a source said.

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