Amitabh Bachchan at IFFM: Cinema builds bridges between Cultures
By Rama Gaind
By Rama Gaind
GLITZ, glamour and shimmering fanfare associated with Bollywood – along with the presence of the ‘godfather of Indian cinema’, Amitabh Bachchan – hit a crescendo at the end of the inaugural awards ceremony of the third Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) on May 2.
The red carpet gala event saw the historic Princess Theatre being besieged by international guests, high profile and local dignitaries and countless fans for the awards ceremony that was also resplendent with infectious music and dance.
The two-time National Film Award-winning director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra`s hit film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, won three awards: for best film, director and actor.
Farhan Akhtar, who played the title role in the biopic on legendary athlete Milkha Singh, shared the Best Actor award with Irrfan Khan for The Lunchbox.
Kangana Ranaut received the best actress award for her hit film Queen.
The sophomore directorial outing by Vijay Krishna Acharya, Dhoom 3, received the People’s Choice award for being the highest grossing film at the Australian box office.
Ritesh Batra took the award for The Lunchbox in the best Indie film award category.
On his first-ever visit to Australia, megastar Amitabh Bachchan, 71, felt priviledged: he was honoured with a special International Screen Icon award and La Trobe University created the ‘Shri Amitabh Bachchan’ scholarship. The university also conferred an honorary doctorate.
The accolades were ample: the director of IFFM, Mitu Bhowmick-Lange, said he was the “undisputed patriarch of Indian cinema”, while the Victorian Minister for the Arts, Heidi Victoria, called him “a true legend of Bollywood”.
‘Big B’ thanked the Victorian Government for conferring him with the Screen Icon award and felt he was “least accomplished to receive such a recognition, but this is your kindness, affection and grace”.
He elaborated on cinema being a great medium, which transcended colour, caste or religion.
The Bollywood icon said cinema was a builder of bridges between cultures. One enjoyed the same film, “when we sit inside a hall, we don’t know what the caste, creed, religion or colour of the person sitting next to you is”.
“We enjoy the same product, laugh at the same jokes and sing the same songs. We enjoy the same emotions,” he said, adding there were very few institutions left in the world that are able to bring such integration.
“It is wonderful to see that the Australian Government has decided to use this medium in bringing the two cultures, communities together and building strong bonds of friendship. Not just in the field of commerce but in our culture, in our exchange of students and personalities.”
He thanked the Victorian Government for the encouragement that had furthered the productive bonds that existed between “our two nations and lending unstinted support to our film industry in conducting such events to acquaint the locals with our cinema”.
“The warmth and graciousness shall be carried by us all to India, and in particular to our countrymen.”
A veteran of more than 180 films, moviegoers will remember Bachchan for his one Hollywood role – as the gangster Meyer Wolfsheim – in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
This “true legend of Bollywood” is making four films this year and will again be host of TV’s Kaun Banega Crorepati.
The “incredibly vibrant, always surprising world of Indian cinema” did more than delight – it held Melbourne spellbound!