ON June 7, 2000, the New York Times ran an interesting story about Fiji. The feature piece touched on the events of that year and how the international community perceived what happened here.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Surrounded by turquoise sea, lush emerald hills and the tropical trade winds that blow across our beautiful country, Fijians, the story suggested, "like to say their serenity matches the scenery".
The story raised the famous slogan coined by Pope John Paul II when he called by in 1986, "Fiji — the way the world should be".
Fiji's idyllic reputation was severely tested then and stood up well. The slogan spoke of a beautiful country, and people living in peace and harmony.
We are still fun-loving people. But we take a lot of things for granted including the fact that we live in peace and harmony with people of many races and religions.
Multi-racialism is a vital ingredient of normal life in Fiji.
This is what makes our country special.
So when the first Bollywood movie to be shot entirely in Fiji raked a worldwide gross box office earning of $F7.03million, the news was bound to raise a lot of eyebrows across many imaginery divides. As a nation, it would have inched out overwhelming pride.
Producers of the film say Table No. 21 has been appreciated by audiences around the world for its content and entertainment with a message.
This, combined with performances by the stars of the movie in what has been described as exotic locations in Fiji have helped the movie in terms of viewers.
The movie was released in over 1200 screens worldwide. And if that wasn't enough, another movie shot in Fiji, 3G, is set for release worldwide on March 15.
The movie, a project of EROS subsidiary Next Generation films, features Bollywood heartthrob Neil Nitin Mukesh and actress Sonal Chauhan. What is interesting though is the fact that 40 local extras featured in the movie with several of them in speaking roles.
Like Table No. 21, 3G was shot in Fiji over 50 days and involved some stunts. Some of the film sequences were shot at the luxurious Denarau Island, in the Capital City, Pacific Harbour and in Sigatoka Town.
The popularity of Table No. 21, we hope will boost Fiji's reputation as a viable option for movie makers.
The benefits are endless for us.
Apart from boosting the local economy, and providing employment opportunities, the exposure and mileage Fiji gains when such movies are screened around the world can never be effectively measured.
The onus though is on us, the people of Fiji to play our little parts right.
We need to ensure visitors to our country are safe and enjoy true Fijian-style hospitality, just like what the late Pope experienced in '86. We already live in a beautiful country.