Kochi Metro’s arrival has changed Kochi’s face a great deal and films that are set in Kochi are bound to have the Metro and its premises included in them. However, the shooting rates announced by the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) have come as a shocker for most filmmakers, who were hoping to showcase the newness of the city from the Metro. Currently, the filming rates at station premises are priced at Rs 2 lakh per hour with a security deposit of Rs 4 lakh and inside the trains at Rs 4 lakh per hour with a deposit of Rs 6 lakh. Now according to some filmmakers, these rates are not at all reasonable to small budget films. Director and actor Vineeth Sreenivasan says, “That kind of rent and budget is feasible only if you are planning a movie with a big star. If you have a film with relative newcomers, I doubt if we could attempt such a project.” Vineeth stressed on the fact that the rates should be made flexible so that small budget films could also accommodate Metro scenes. Supporting him, director Jeethu Joseph says shooting a song cut would take a minimum of three hours. “This would mean that the cost would rise up to Rs 12 lakh, which is a exorbitant for Mollywood. A lot of films set in urban Kochi will now have to feature the Metro especially because it’s part of the evolving face of the city.” While the filmmakers say that the rates are on the higher side, there are many who question why the prices aren’t viable especially when they have shot songs and scenes abroad, of late. To this, Vineeth, whose movie Jacobinte Swargarajyam had scenes shot inside the Dubai Metro, replies, “The money they charged was nominal. Also, we were given a lot of time and freedom to shoot in places such as the Metro and airport in Dubai. Since the shooting was not at peak hours, they left the entire platform to us – even their officials weren’t present.” Actor Vijay Babu though disagrees with the view to lower the prices just for filmmakers. “If the rates are less, more people would be shooting in Metro and that becomes inconvenient for the commuters. Sure, the rates are high for small films but if it’s a big budget film that has just one or two scenes, it won’t burn a huge hole in the pocket for filmmakers.” Also, many people argue that if Metro is included in the films and the new view of the city is captured, it would also usher in tourism. Jeethu says, “Why a lot of filmmakers want to shoot inside the Metro soon is to capitalise on its charm as well as capture frames that have not been featured before in Malayalam films.” With Mollywood movies now being viewed by audience outside the State too, Vineeth says, “Earlier in Hollywood films, the directors used to bombard the viewers with scenes of the sprawling Manhattan skyscape through heli-cam and top angle shots. From these films, the global audience were aware of their cities. Similarly, if our government takes the initiative to bring down the rates, we could also market every region of our State.” To circumvent the rates imposed, director Ranjith Sankar proposes proper planning to make the shooting cost effective. “You can always shoot smartly if you plan well in advance as you could save time,” he says. However, the director, whose movie Arjunan Sakshi was about the metro, says that it would take at least 2-3 years for the service to be part of people’s routine lives. “When that happens, Metro has to inevitably feature in the films but till then, filmmakers can always shoot the metro from a distance or smartly incorporate that into movies without actually shooting inside a station or the train,” he says. Jeethu, meanwhile, suggests that the KMRL must hike deposit rates and lower the hourly rates to make it more viable for Malayalam films. The metro authorities though say that the rates are on par with other Metros in the South. “When we arrive at a rate, we also consider the possibilities of damage to the surroundings. That’s why the deposit is fixed on the higher side,” says KMRL spokesperson Reshmi CR. She added that that metro has been getting enquiries and already an ad film has been shot. Films will be given permission to shoot from September. “Currently, there are a lot of joyriders, and we don’t want to cause any inconvenience. If the enquires increase and there are specific requirements, we can run an extra train without disturbing the regular passengers,” she says.