The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), the southern hemisphere’s greatest annual celebration of Indian cinema will take place in the month of May. The festival this year will be exploring the richness of contemporary Indian cinema across four program streams, with films spanning Bollywood to art house and the subcontinent, as well as establishing an international competition, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Awards.
The festival has announced a number of India’s biggest stars as special guests for 2014. The stellar list includes godfather of Indian cinema Amitabh Bachchan, who will be honoured as the IFFM International Screen Icon for 2014.
To celebrate this visit by one of the world’s most iconic stars La Trobe University is creating the ‘Shri Amitabh Bachchan’ scholarship and Mr Bachchan will personally present the inaugural scholarship to a student during his visit.
“Victorians and all visitors to Melbourne are in for a treat of Indian films this year. We have a stellar international guest list starring Bollywood screen legend Amitabh Bachchan who will open the festival on 1 May. It will be an honour to have Mr Bachchan here, just a year after he opened the Cannes Film Festival with his Great Gatsby co star, Leonardo DiCaprio,” Ms Asher Minister for Innovation, Tourism and Major Events, and Employment and Trade Louise Asher said.
Other guests include nationalaward-winning art house star Konkona Sen Sharma; iconic filmmakers Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and RajKumar 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 awards this year is judged by a panel of Australian and Indian film legends including Phillip Noyce, Jill Bilcock, Raju Hirani, Simi Garewal, Rajeev Masand and Suhasini Maniratnam. In the first Indian cinema awards of its kind in Australia, winners in the categories of Best Film, Best Performance, Best Director, Best Independent Film and the People’s Choice Award will be announced at a red carpet gala event on 2 Mayat the Princess Theatrewith a dazzling entertainment program presented by local Melbourne talents.
IFFM kicks off on 1 May 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. “We are really delighted to open the festival with a screening of this most cherished film,” said festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange.
Turning its focus to contemporary India, IFFM presents four dynamic program streams of new films from India and the subcontinent. “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”, said Bhowmick-Lange.
‘Hurrah Bollywood!’ features the best mainstream Hindi cinema from the last 12 months, featuring Bhaagh Milkha Bhaagh, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela, a Bollywood adaptation of Romeo and Juliet; Dhoom 3.
‘Beyond Bollywood’ presents art house and cinema in regional Indian languages, with program highlights such as the critically-acclaimed Anumati, Filmistan; the Marathi film, Fandry,; B A Pass; and Apur Panchali,.
‘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 Torontointernational film festivals.
‘Films from the Subcontinent’ features eight films from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Closing the festival is Goyner Baksho, directed by Aparna Sen which will be introduced by leading actor, Konkona Sen Sharma.
IFFM 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. The annual competition supports and encourages the careers of young filmmakers from India and Australia and fosters industry ties between the two countries. The 2014 winners will be announced at the IFFM Awards night and the winning films screened.
The colour and rhythm of Bollywood is expressed most joyously in its dancing. At Federation Square on 4 May audiences can emulate their screen heroes and join in the Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition to be judged by the incredible Malaika Arora Khan, a judge on TV show India’s Got Talent.
The nominees for this year are:
Irrfan Khan : The Lunch Box
Farhan Akhtar : Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Raj Kumar Yadav : Shahid
Deepika Padukone: Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela
SonakshiSinha : Lootera
Nimrit Kaur : The Lunch Box
Kangana Ranaut : Queen
RakeyshMehra : Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
RiteshBatra : The Lunch Box
Anup Singh : Qissa
Anand Gandhi : Ship of Thesus
BEST INDIE FILM
Ship Of Thesus
The Lunch Box