Film Festival on a song and one woman exemplifies the theme: courage.
With its copious film list, Bollywood royalty and much more, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne gives us plenty to talk about.
If the theme of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is courage, it begins with its creator- Mitu Bhowmick Lange as she serves both artistes and the audience with courage. The force behind what has now come to be known as the southern hemisphere’s biggest celebration of films, Lange exemplifies both courage and conviction as she rolls the IFFM into its tenth year and makes it grow to newer heights.
Chief guest and Bollywood King Shah Rukh Khan, recounted Lange’s dream of starting an Indian film festival a decade ago when he was shooting for Chak De in Melbourne over card games they played during off time. Lange’s nascent dream then is now a full-fledged thriving reality, something that Khan says is at once “so heartening and so encouraging”. And there is his reason why: for something as ‘strangely diverse’ as the Indian film industry, Lange has managed to bring Indian cinema to Australia and to the diaspora, for whom films are what they hanker for to step back into nostalgia and time. Of course, not to mention the honour with which stars are felicitated, Khan added.
As per readers of G’day India and The Indian Weekly, Lange is indeed courage personified. To organise events of such magnitude as the IFFM Awards Night, the Indian flag hoisting ceremony and Bollywood dance competition at Federation Square, masterclasses with Bollywood royalty and outstanding actors and filmmakers and bringing a selection of films that reflect diversity and inclusion is no mean task. That added with the logistics of providing security and maintaining order is something that require great management skills and foresight. Indeed, this icon of a lady deserves credit where it is due.
Ten years ago, getting Indian films and stars to Australia was a rarity and for the hundreds and thousands of Indians and Australians, a selfie with their favourite is no longer a far-fetched dream, thanks to Lange. Standing confident, tall and unfazed by the glitterati, Lange has only one thing on her mind: that the festival is a success, the guests treated with utmost hospitality and every Melburnian carries a memory to take home.
As the festival continues well into the new week with many more events (see link below for details), Lange is excited at the “many incredible voices that have come out”. Her festival, she says, has always been tied to the principles of diversity and inclusion, which is why films being showcased are selected with great care.
With the festival entering its 10th sweet year, Lange has been able to stretch and challenge the notions of film and entertainment by bringing to Australia the best in the arts. “We have always believed that films are the greatest cultural bridge between countries and communities and IFFM continues to be that with the guests that it invites and with its programs,” she said.
And with courage she makes her contribution to something bigger than herself on the landscape of Australia’s cultural and entertainment landscape. Importantly, fostering such a pioneering idea about cinema among Australia’s burgeoning Indian community and mainstream Australians is a dream many would want to realise.
Go, enjoy the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne that culminates on August 17.
(for events & other details visit www.iffm.com.au)
FROM THE RED CARPET
The much-loved Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is well on its way after kicking off in style. Melburnians screamed and jostled for selfies as the King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan, along with other Indian cinema stars. The festival runs up until August 17.
AWARDS NIGHT AT PALAIS THEATRE
And the winner goes to…
Best Actor: Vijay Sethupathi for Super Deluxe
Best Actress: Tabu for Andhadhun
Best Film: Gully Boy
Best Director: Sriram Raghavan for Andhadhun
Best Indie film: Bulbul Can Sing
Best Short Film: My Name is Mohamed and Raghad, We Don’t Exist Anymore, Be My Brother
Diversity in Cinema: Onir
Telstra People’s Excellence in Cinema: Shah Rukh Khan
PwC Equality in Cinema: Super Deluxe
Choice Award: Simmba
PwC Equality in Cinema: Chuskit
TABU: “It is my first time to Australia and I am so happy to be here. Punjabi is the only language left that I want to do a film in now. People identify me so much with Punjabi and Sikh characters.”
KARAN JOHAR: “The IFFM has really been a force to reckon with. Over the past decade, it has garnered such love and appreciation. I have been to multiple festivals but this one has all the heart that comes from all the people here in Melbourne. More power to inclusiveness.”
VIJAY SETHUPATHI: “Very happy to be here in Melbourne and thanks to everyone for the love.”
MALAIKA ARORA: “It feels wonderful to be back year. It is my eight year that I am back here. The warmth, the love and the cold weather that never changes but it is a pleasure to be back. To see the kind of support that we get here, that is amazing.”
ARJUN KAPOOR: “I am very thankful for the love and support that have been given to us. It is my first time to Australia and I am very happy at the opportunity. Obviously, we interact on social media, we don’t realise the power of meeting people across seven seas. So this inspires me to keep doing good work and coming back here, bringing better films here.”
GAYATHRIE SHANKAR: “Festivals like these give us a big validation that we are on the right path. So thank you to IFFM for recognising us and bringing us all the way here. I want to come back here again.”
RIMA DAS: “It is always beautiful to participate in a film festival outside India because you feel like home. Lots of love here and I always love interacting with the people one to one, you know their point of view. I have seen over the years that they have a different perception. It is also commendable that IFFM has brought mainstream as well as regional cinema under one roof.”
SHAH RUKH KHAN LEAVES HIS MARK, AS ALWAYS!
From the complex spectrum of emotions to melodrama to comedy – Shah Rukh Khan or the king of Bollywood – blends it all well on screen. Off screen, he radiates the same presence and it is even harder to fall less in love with this actor who for decades has charmed men and women the world over. In Melbourne, as chief guest of the Indian Film Festival, Khan with his easy laugh, wit and the gravitas in his voice left much to swoon over.
Wherever Khan went, the screams followed. Young Meher, who came all the way from university to catch a glimpse of the star at 55 Collins Street, the day he was addressing a press conference, was ready to cry when she learnt the actor had possibly left the venue. There is a mania associated with his fandom. It is as Mitu Bhowmick Lange (festival director) puts it, “quite like the Beatles,” as she recalls her time working with Khan during the shooting of Chak De! India in 2007. Women dressed in brides turned up in droves for all the days that the shoot lasted. That madness in his fans is something that has not abated in all these years.
Khan is returning to Melbourne precisely after 12 years and, by his own telling, as a “restlessly peaceful person” taking time off work. While the world awaits the announcement of his next project, Khan chuckles, and says even he himself is keen to know what his next project his. “Every morning I am waking with ‘hey somebody’ tell me. I don’t know what I am doing (next). I finished my last film (Zero) and, just to put it lightly, it was a disaster, very bad and very sad and I am not mourning but I thought let me enjoy a little bit of un-success, I have enjoyed success for so long. So I have taken some time off.”
Khan, of course, knows better. He revealed the itch for some action movie, “kick an ass, do one-liners such as ‘Rishtey mein toh hum tumhare Baap lagte hai (The relation we share is signified by my authority as your male parent)”. Incidentally, this line from the film Shahensha is touted as one of the most dramatic and legendary lines in Bollywood films.
But what also excites him these days is Netflix and the Writers’ Room. “I like hanging around there and I would love to do a Netflix series or a movie if someone offers me.”
Being at the festival here in Melbourne and sharing space with great filmmakers and actors, he hoped, will rub off on him and lead to the creation of some good cinema. “I have been telling Tabu (IFFM guest) to rub against me for a long time, this is out of love, please don’t hold me for being mean,” said Khan, who, as a matter of reputation, has a sense of humour that easily steals the show.
In his two days’ presence in the city, Khan left his fans asking for more. At the Palais Theatre for IFFM Awards Night, he broke into impromptu dances and recited famous dialogues from some of his movies, understanding full well that the crowd had come for entertainment. At La Trobe University where he was awarded with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) for his humanitarian work besides his achievements in the Indian entertainment industry, he showed equal love to his young fans who had come despite the rains and chill to meet him. The huge turn-out at La Trobe made its Chancellor John Brumby remark that he wished had the same attendance of students on a normal graduation day.
The fact remains: people barring all age groups love Khan defensively and madly, even those who do not like him as an actor, for his personality and his vibe.
By Indira Laisram