Melbourne: This August as the city’s much loved Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) gets underway, one couldn’t have asked for a much better gift than Shah Rukh Khan, the Baadshah of Bollywood, as the chief guest. So yes, the Indian Bollywood superstar is coming to town!
As the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne enters its tenth sweet year, the level of excitement is really high as this much-loved festival keeps setting its own benchmark year after year. Helmed by the Victorian government, the festival will take place between August 8 to 17.
Khan, who has many titles to his name –King Khan, Baadshah or King of Bollywood, King of Romance – will be opening the festival officially on August 8 along with the other festival guests and in the company of the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrew and Festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange.
Speaking on being appointed as the chief guest for the festival, Khan said, “I’m honoured and delighted to accept the invitation from the Victorian government and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne to open their festival as their chief guest. An industry of our magnitude and diversity deserves to be celebrated with great passion and fervour, which is what the festival embodies.
“I’m particularly pleased with the theme of the festival this year which is courage, an emotion that resonates with storytellers who really have the might to change the society and the world. I have had great memories of shooting for Chak De India in Melbourne and look forward to being back again, this time to celebrate Indian cinema”.
Announcing the news, Premier Daniel Andrews said, “The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is a much-loved event that celebrates the strong relationship between Victoria and India and our own vibrant Indian community. This event has grown significantly over the past decade and with the extraordinary Shah Rukh Khan here, this year’s festival is shaping up to be the biggest and most exciting yet.”
Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said, “A celebration of film, community and culture, the Indian Film Festival puts Melbourne in the spotlight and attracts more than 35,000 people each year. The Bollywood and Indian film industry is the biggest in the world and in addition to supporting this festival, we’ve announced a new Bollywood and Indian Cinema Attraction Fund to bring more film productions from India and the subcontinent to Victoria. Perhaps we will even lure Shah Rukh Khan back to our shores again!”
Festival director Lange said, “We are so elated with the news of Mr Khan joining us to be our chief guest. He’s truly an icon of Indian cinema internationally, a global icon, who millions and millions follow and look up to. The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne has always strived to bring the best of cinema from India and the sub-continent here in Melbourne and bridge a gap between the fans and the actors whom people love and admire. We are looking forward to hosting Mr Khan in Melbourne.”
The festival in its 10 years has grown pillar to pillar and has gone from being a grassroots festival to a government supported one and an awardee of several global accolades, making it the biggest Indian Film Festival in the Southern Hemisphere. This year the festival is set to celebrate the central theme of ‘courage’, which is engraved in the inclusivity and diversity of the Indian film business.
What began as a small affair has evolved into an iconic feature on Melbourne’s cultural map. The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne today is a greatly inspired initiative by Mind Blowing Films (MBF).
There is a certain sweet nostalgia for Mitu Bhowmick Lange who established MBF in 2008 from the confines of her home. She started curating the festival since 2009 with the idea of packaging the best of films with subtitles so people could choose from an array of films.
But as the festival evolved, it has become a wide-ranging affair with streams such as Hurray Bollywood focussing on main commercial blockbusters, Beyond Bollywood which has regional cinema, independent films from India and the sub-continent, and Masterstrokes.
In 2012, MBF bid and won the Victoria government tender for funds and with an already strong base of corporate sponsorship, the festival took a life of its own.
Lange understands that films and film stars deserve their moments with audience and that is perhaps why IFFM is a memorable experience for many. It comes with a galaxy of stars, master-classes with actors and directors and many other surprises.
• It is a festival is designed for everyone, the whole city and not just Indians.
• IFFM has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest Bollywood Dance Class
• IFFM’s opening week coincides with the Indian Independence Day celebrations at Fed Square
WHY SHAH RUKH KHAN IS A MUCH LOVED STAR
In the era before satellite television in India, it was state-owned television channel Doordarshan that kept a nation glued on to the small screen. There was a rich repertoire of actors but one that stood out and became the nation’s heartthrob was none other than Shah Rukh Khan, who as his character Lieutenant Abhimanyu Rai, stole the limelight in the smash hit show Fauji.
Since then, he has had the world fall in love with him with his many films and cemented his position as the Baadshah of Bollywood. He has done over 55 films, won several awards including a Padma Shree (India’s fourth highest civilian award) and Legion d’ honneur (highest French order of merit).
Married to Gauri Khan and blessed with three children, Khan is also producer, owner of a cricket team and philanthropist.
Known for his charm, wit and intelligence, the actor once told the media, “I want to compete against and beat myself. Every morning. Let my today kill yesterday. Let my tomorrow kill my today. I am going to make it bigger, better.”
Melbourne cannot wait to see the King in flesh and blood!
(Press release & TIW)