India and Canada are on the brink of signing a co-production treaty that will extend the nascent film production relationship between the two territories, which has already seen a number of Indian films shoot in the country.

Cwurrently, Indian film star Manoj Bajpai is to star in (Exotica), an Indo-Canadian feature titled Indigo. The English-language film is to be directed by the Toronto-based filmmaker Suresh Natrajan (Petals).

The film is based on a true story of a beautiful American dance student who falls in love with a Hindu priest. Their forbidden affair takes them on a perilous journey. Indigo will be shot in September in Toronto and parts of Kerala.

Meanwhile the Indian and Canadian Governments are negotiating the details of a Indo-Canadian Co-production treaty. Information and Broadcasting Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj told Screen Daily, "We shall be signing a number of co-production treaties with other countries this year".

The Canadian High Commissioner to India, Mr Peter Sutherland, said that discussions were on-going between the Governments on possible areas of collaboration in the entertainment industry including co-producing television films and animation programmes.

Previously, Mr John Manley, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister, on a trip to India in January 2002 made a strong pitch for fostering tie-ins between the industries in Canada and India. Both countries have a large English-speaking population, were members of the Commonwealth, with similar legal systems, and in Canada, about two per cent of the population was Indo-Canadian, he said.

A delegation of film and Television industry representatives from British Columbia were in India recently to study the market and offer collaboration opportunities. Mr. Lindsay Allen, head of BC Film Commission told Screen Daily, "While the Swiss Alps appear to attract more Indian film-makers at present, the Canadian Rockies would compare well with the Alps and would be a lot cheaper."

Canada has increasingly become a favourite location for Indian film-makers, tired of their usual jaunts to Switzerland and Mauritius. Hindi films like Mohabbat Pardes and the recent Taal were shot against Canadian backdrops in Vancouver and Toronto.

Ajay Virmani, an Indo-Canadian business shipping tycoon has already co-produced three films in Toronto: Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, International Khiladi and Mr & Mrs Khiladi.

Hindi filmmakers like Subhash Ghai were amongst the first to start a new trend in Mumbai by filming Pardes and Taal in Canadian cities -- the Canadian government responded by providing permits, visas, accessible studio and technical facilities. "Canada has a lot to offer to filmmakers in terms of artistic and technical wizardry but for some reason it has remained unexplored by many of our film-makers,'' says Ghai.