Splendour and spectacle of Bollywood to descend on Melbourne
By Rama Gaind
THE pomp and splendour of Bollywood will be on display when Lights! Camera! Action! comes into play at the third Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) from May 1, 2014.
Regarded as one of the biggest events of its kind in the southern hemisphere, the 11-day festival will present a world-class program that will overflow with gala events, master classes with India’s leading film celebrities and more than 45 screenings across four Melbourne venues.
According to the festival director Mitu Bhowmick-Lange, the “incredibly vibrant, always surprising world of Indian cinema” is sure to delight.
“The program reflects the films coming out of India today – questioning the social injustices, our relationship with our neighbours, gender inequality, while we also celebrate the wonderful Bollywood musicals that we all so love”.
The stellar list of superstars includes godfather of Indian cinema Amitabh Bachchan, who will be honoured as the IFFM International Screen icon for 2014. La Trobe University has created the ‘Shri Amitabh Bachchan’ scholarship and he will personally present the inaugural scholarship to a student.
Other guests include national award-winning arthouse star Konkona Sen Sharma; iconic filmmakers Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Raj Kumar Hirani; Bollywood siren Malaika Arora Khan; popular actress, director, producer and writer, Suhasini Maniratnam; celebrated writer and director of the record-breaking Dhoom 3, Vijay Krishna Acharya; and from Lollywood, Pakistani producer Hassan Wagas Rana (Waar) and acclaimed Pakistani actor, writer and director Shaan Shahid.
The festival will open with the Australian premiere of the newly-restored Sholay 3D, followed by a Q&A with the film’s star Amitabh Bachchan. Since its release in 1975, the spaghetti western-style action adventure film has established itself as a beloved classic of Indian cinema and is critically regarded as one of the best Indian films of all time.
The historic Princess Theatre is the venue for the launch (on May 2) of this year’s IFFM Awards, the first of its kind in Australia, judged by a panel of Australian and Indian film legends including Phillip Noyce, Jill Bilcock, Raju Hirani, Simi Garewal, Rajeev Masand and Suhasini Maniratnam.
Turning its focus to contemporary India, IFFM will present four dynamic program streams of new films from India and the subcontinent.
‘Hurray Bollywood!’ features the best mainstream Hindi cinema from the last 12 months, featuring Bhaagh Milkha Bhaagh, the incredible true story of track legend Milkha Singh; romantic smash-hit Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, a Bollywood adaptation of Romeo and Juliet; and the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, Dhoom 3, starring Aamir Khan.
‘Beyond Bollywood’ presents art house and cinema in regional Indian languages, with program highlights such as the critically-acclaimed Anumati, the story of an old man’s attempt to save his dying wife; the wonderfully original Filmistan, about a friendship that bonds over Bollywood across Borders; the Marathi film, Fandry, exploring the caste system of India; BA Pass; and Apur Panchali, for which Kaushik Ganguli won Best Director at the International Film Festival of India Awards.
‘New Voices’ celebrates exciting emerging talents, presenting Ship of Theseus, directed by Sydney Film Festival jury member Anand Gandhi; and Ritesh Batra’s The Lunch Box, following screenings at the Cannes, Sundance and Toronto International film festivals.
‘Films from the Sucontinent’ features eight films from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Closing the festival will be Goyner Baksho, directed by Aparna Sen, and introduced by actress Konkona Sen Sharma.
The festival, supported by the Victorian Government, also offers a window into the future of filmmaking with screenings of winners and finalists in the Western Union short film competition open to filmmakers from India and Australia.
Indian cinema is all about romance, drama, action, comedy, songs and – definitely dance. At Federation Square, on May 4, audiences can emulate their screen heroes and join in the Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition to be judged by the gorgeous Malaika Arora Khan, a judge on India’s Got Talent.
This is when the colour and rhythm of Bollywood will be expressed most joyously through its dancing!