Anyone who happened to peer through the railings of Doncaster Racecourse last week would have been met with a surreal sight.

India's 1936 Olympic hockey team were greeted by a cheering crowd as they climbed off a vintage coach, before Nazi officers viciously beat a couple of their overenthusiastic fans.

Behind them, giant swastika banners were draped from the racecourse's historic Clock Tower Stand.

But this was just a film set, and Doncaster Racecourse was doubling as Berlin's 1936 Olympic Stadium. It will appear in Gold, an epic new Bollywood movie that tells the story of India's Olympic hockey players in 1936 and 1948.

One of the actors in Doncaster was Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar, who is above the likes of Tom Hanks, Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds on Forbes magazine's latest list of the world's best-paid actors.



"I rank him in the top five actors in Bollywood," says Suhail Al Belushi, from Leeds, who is one of more than 5,000 local extras in the film.

Mr Al Belushi has taken time out of his day job as a freelance interpreter to appear in the film after seeing Akshay Kumar walk into a hotel in Leeds.

"When I saw him I was shocked," he says. "I thought maybe there's a guy who looks like him. If it was India there would be crowds everywhere, heckling him, following him, wanting photos."

Among the other locations being used, Bradford's Midland Hotel, Harrogate's Old Swan Hotel and Leicester's Grand Hotel are all standing in for different parts of the Bombay Club in colonial Mumbai.

Rotherham FC's old Millmoor stadium doubles as an Indian hockey pitch. Dalton Mills in Keighley is a German army camp. The homes of Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos and York City FC have all had a sprinkle of Bollywood stardust

"I came here because I liked the locations," director Reema Kagti says.

"For this film, because it's a period film, I needed architecture that's been maintained. Architecture that existed before the '30s and has been maintained till date, and Yorkshire seems to have a lot of that. They really seem to respect their heritage and look after it."

The UK has become the destination of choice for many global film-makers, with talent from both Hollywood and Bollywood making it their home from home.

Movie production in the UK has grown 72% since 2014, the Office for National Statistics has reported.

Last year, £1.3bn was spent by foreign film-makers in Britain, according to the British Film Institute (BFI) - double the figure in 2012.

Most of that came from Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Transformers: The Last Knight and The Mummy.

But there's a growing trend for Bollywood films to be shot in the UK too.





BBC