‘Biggest challenge to filming in Turkey is limited English skills’

01/03/2012 09:38


23 February 2012 / ALYSON NEEL, İSTANBUL
Indian film producer Javed Rehman Khan, during a visit to İstanbul for an upcoming romantic musical, said on Thursday the greatest roadblock to filming in Turkey is low English-language proficiency.

“I have found Turkish people to be very cooperative and intelligent,” said Khan on his collaboration with Turkish producers and actors on the film. “But you know what the biggest problem I've found in working here is? Very few people know English well.”

Khan said he has traveled around the world but has not had as difficult a time in communicating, hiring and filming in English as he has had in Turkey.

A recent Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) report found English-language proficiency in Turkish state schools to be extremely low, despite the fact that the subject is compulsory.

Turkey ranks 43rd out of 44 countries in English-language proficiency, trailing countries such as Chile, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

Khan told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview that he is excited to bring together elements of Bollywood, the second largest film sector next to Hollywood, and Turkish cinema. But he added, “If Turkish people were more proficient in English, they could have a much larger role in the Bollywood industry.”

Not only could Turkey enjoy a larger slice of the figurative Bollywood pie, but Khan also said Turkey could be an even bigger player on the world stage. “English is an international language after all,” he shrugged.

He pointed to his Turkish counterpart, Ali Avcı of Evrensel Media. “I can't talk to my partner without a translator. There's no privacy between us.”

Khan and Avcı signed a contract last July in İstanbul for their upcoming film “Super Rockstar,” which they will begin shooting in April in İstanbul and Ankara. “Super Rockstar” will also be shot in India, Khan said.

“It will be an international film,” said Kahn, listing actors from Turkey, Egypt, India, Greece, the United States and Iran. The $3-million film will show this September in Canada, the US, Turkey, Russia and Spain.

The two leads of the film will be Turkish and Indian, Khan said, but he is still searching for the Turkish lead. “I have auditioned a few Turkish actors, and they are good. But their English is not sufficient. How can they possibly express themselves in an English film if they don't know English?”

Khan, who is also the film's writer, said “Super Rockstar” is a love story between a Christian Turkish man and a Hindu Indian woman, whose relationship meets social and family resistance. “I am combining music, culture and scenes from both countries,” he said.

Film on Islam in progress

Khan is also working on a film that he hopes will show the world “Muslims are not terrorists.”

“I want to express through this project that not all Muslims are terrorists and that Muslims should be treated as friends, not enemies,” said Kahn about the film, which is supported by the Turkish, Indian and Iranian governments.

Kahn, a Muslim, underscored the similarities between the faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. “There is no solution in fighting. We are all brothers and sisters,” he said.

“Muslims do not commit terror. Christians do not commit terror. Jews do not commit terror,” said Kahn, explaining that religion is often used as a tool in terrorist attacks.