Roland Joffe (The Mission, The Killing Fields) is no stranger to the vagaries of shooting in exotic locations. But nothing quite stacks up to Calcutta, where the director is filming City of Joy. Based on the 1986 novel by Dominique Lapierre, the film stars Patrick Swayze as a disillusioned doctor who learns the meaning of love from the inhabitants of Calcutta’s slums.
Some Calcuttans, though, charged last month that the film exploits the city’s poverty, and mounted sometimes violent demonstrations against it. One day’s shooting in the city had to be stopped when protestors hurled stones at the cast and crew. A few days later, nail bombs and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the production’s indoor set; fortunately, filming had finished for the day and no one was seriously injured. On March 7, a judge’s temporary restraining order confined shooting to the indoor set. (The order has since been lifted and outdoor shooting resumed.) Despite the problems, Joffe is determined to finish the film in Calcutta: ”There’s an energy here that can’t be re-created. In general, the public has been overwhelmingly supportive. Problems are being caused by a handful of agitators.” Swayze is sanguine. ”The struggle has made us all the more determined,” he says. ”This is a passionate way to make a movie.”