CM’s Speech for Indian Summers Screening
on Tuesday, 3rd March 2015
Thank you everyone for being here tonight.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome back to Penang Mr. Charlie Pattinson, the Executive Producer of New Pictures. And thank Charlie and his team for inviting us here for this very special screening of Episode One of the recently launched and highly anticipated UK Channel 4 series of Indian Summers.
I’m sure everyone here is aware that this very special television series was filmed entirely on location here in wonderful Penang. We are honored and proud to host this film project and will continue to enjoy the working relationship that has been fostered with New Pictures as well as the local Malaysian production company working with New Pictures on this endeavour – Biscuit Films.
I am sure that you are all very excited and can't wait to see the premiere episode. But hold your horses and allow me to just say a few words about how this television series based in Simla India found its way to the shores of Malaysia and the island of Penang.
When Charlie and New Pictures began their search for the ideal location for a series based in India, I'm sure you know that Malaysia would not be at the top of the list. It was only after exhaustive location searches in India and Sri Lanka that failed to satisfy requirements of a colonial old-world charm setting Charlie came to Malaysia. He told me he was desperate for without a suitable location there would be no Indian Summers. As a final roll of the dice he finded Penang in May of 2013 at the advice of Biscuit Films producer, Magen Appathurai.
Before the end of the first day and after seeing how Penang has embraced its architectural heritage and seeing our focus on the restoration and maintenance of our architectural treasures, Charlie had found the location he wanted.
The State Government entered into a tripartite agreement on 23 April 2014 after several discussions and meetings. The inscription of George Town as a Unesco World Heritage Site has helped greatly in making Penang the perfect location for a period drama series . The State and Council heritage buildings such as Crag Hotel, Woodside Bungalow and South View Rest House on Penang Hill were widely used as the setting in many scenes. In addition Suffolk House , the Town Hall , Botanical Gardens, State Museum as well as many other colonial and traditional buildings blended perfectly as well.
The unique cultural diversity has enabled Penang to offer the local cast and also talent in the performing arts. The show has featured prominent local actors like Mano Maniam , Indi Nadarajah, Ash Nair, Gulshan Lal, Anita Abdul Hamid, Sachin Kumar, Sasitharan Rajoo, Sham Sunder Binwani and our very own local artist Himanshu Bhatt (who is also a famous reporter based in Penang)
The series was released in February in the UK by Channel 4 and has become Channel 4’s best performing drama in more than 2 decades. It’s opening episode which we are all about to enjoy drew a consolidated audience of more than 5 million viewers.
The Penang State Government and the citizens of Penang are proud to share our wonderful home with these viewers and look forward to welcoming them all to visit us in the near future.
The State government supports the performing arts and we welcome projects such as Indian Summers because we do realize the immense opportunity that this project brings in terms of foreign direct investment, employment for local cast and crew, indirect promotion of Penang tourism internationally and many other indirect aspects. A total investment of 10 million pounds has been injected to produce the entire Season One. And I have just been informed that there's a green light for Season 2, which will commence work in mid/end March 2015.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Biscuit Films for promoting Penang as a filming destination and for putting together an efficient and dedicated local crew that is an integral part of this series production.