Wooing tourists the Sunway, KLIA way
SUNWAY Medical Centre, San Francisco, USA.
People who don't know any better would think that the Sunway Group has actually opened a hospital in the US.
Sunway Medical Centre, San Francisco, is in fact a hospital that appears in the Tamil movie "180", but there is only one Sunway Medical Centre and it is located in Malaysia.
Movies are often used as a tool to lure tourists to our shores. Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was given the "Datuk" title for his contribution towards Malaysia's tourism, particularly, in Malacca.
Similarly, we were elated that Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones were shooting "Entrapment" in Malaysia.
About a decade ago, Malaysia was marketed aggressively by Tourism Malaysia and along with this we saw a rise in the number of film producers from India coming to Malaysia to shoot their movies. Tourist numbers grew in tandem.
It is always a proud moment to see Malaysia on the big screen with foreign actors. It is also exciting to try and identify the location of certain scenes.
In the movie "Time" there were scenes of The Palace of the Golden Horses and in "Anniyan" scenes of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
Other popular spots regularly used to shoot Indian movies are Sunway Lagoon Resort and Langkawi.
Sometimes, locations are not really what they seem and could startle the audience. When "Entrapment" was released, it carried scenes which depicted Malaysia as a backward country.
In the Tamil movie "Goa", scenes of the beaches were all from Langkawi instead of India's beach resort Goa.
In recent years, KLIA has been appearing as a US airport. In the movie "Anandha Thandavam", KLIA is shown as JFK airport.
We are all aware that US airports have very high security, particularly after September 11, and getting permission to shoot at airports may be a "no-no".
But, to movie fans who now recognise that KLIA is being passed-off as a US airport, we are no longer proud of it but tend to react somewhat like this: "WHAT??!! This is KLIA la."
Coming back to Sunway, marketing its hospital via movies, as in "180", may be a good way to create publicity and bring in the medical tourists.
Nevertheless, for those who live in Malaysia and recognise the name, the first thing that hits them is "Is there a Sunway Medical Centre in the US?"
Scenes of Malaysia or of Malaysian brands in foreign movies is a fabulous idea to leverage on ... But, if you don't want to be fooled, best to read the credits.