and films from across the globe sprinkled over the Australian soil once again with
the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). The annual film festival was
marked from 14th-27th August, 2015, and colored Australia with joy and jubilation.
The theme for this year’s IFFM was ‘equality’, exploring the richness of
contemporary Indian cinema featuring films from Bollywood to art house and
documentaries. The 14-day festival presented a world-class program overflowing
with gala events, master classes with India’s leading film figures, and over 45films
screening across four Melbourne venues.
The festival had India’s biggest stars as special guests. These included, the veteran
actor, Mr. Anil Kapoor, who has made a mark in both Bollywood and Hollywood
with his versatile performances. Kapoor was accompanied by his ever gorgeous
looking-daughter, Ms. Sonam Kapoor. The list of other celebrated celebrities
included; screen legend Simi Garewal, aka The Lady in White; Bollywood
heartthrob Imran Khan; Shonali Bose, director of Margarita With A Straw;
Nagesh Kukunoor and Elahé Hiptoola, director and producer of Dhanak, which
scooped The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the best
feature length film at the Berlin Film Festival this year; Indian National Award
2015 winning director, Srijit and multi-award winning actress Kangana Ranaut.
IFFM, once again hosted the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Awards (IFFM
Awards), the first Indian cinema awards of this kind in Australia, successfully. For
the occasion a jury panel of Indian and Australian film legends and experts
featuring Simi Garewal, Rajeev Masand, Andrew Anastasios, Jill Bilcock, and
Nikhil Advani had been roped in to honour winners in the categories of Best Film,
Best Performance, Best Director and Best Independent Film. Together with the
recipient of the People’s Choice Award.
The awards ceremony was accompanied by a glamorous fashion show as iconic
Indian designer Anamika Khanna and her Australian counterparts showcased a
unique collection presented by Australian models, celebrities, Bollywood stars and
guests from various walks of life. Many of the garments were auctioned off during
the evening with all proceeds going to The Royal Children’s Hospital.
IFFM began from 14 August with Umrika, which won the World Cinema Dramatic
Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for illuminating cultural
divides through its portrayal of a young Indian boy’s mythologizing of America.
“We are really delighted to open the festival with a screening of this most
cherished film,” said festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange.
The opening weekend coincided with the Indian Independence Day on August 15
and the festival commemorated this important event day with ‘Mr India’ star Mr
Anil Kapoor, hoisting the Indian flag in the midst of a dense crowd, Rose petals
tumbled out of the furled flag, and, in a magical moment, the entire square joined
in with a passionate rendition of the Indian national anthem. This was followed by
an array of ceremonies like, ‘The Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition’, fashion
and the recognition of excellence in India’s film culture
With a special focus on this year’s theme of “Equality”, IFFM presented five
dynamic programme streams of new and classic films from India and the
subcontinent. Festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange said, “Indian filmmakers –
from independent short film makers to our most powerful directors – turn their
gaze to issues of freedom and equality in the contemporary world and celebrate the
diversity that defines us all.”
The ‘Equality’ theme is explored in a number of critically lauded features and
documentaries. Prominent examples include Naanu Avanalla…Avalu(I Am Not
He…She),which focuses on a day in the life of a transgender; Unfreedom, a film
banned in India for its frank depiction of a lesbian relationship; Tell Me A Story
depicting four stories about life in Bombay as a gay man; the award winning
documentary Newborns, about women who survived acid attacks; and the runaway
hit PK, a film that broke box office records while polarising Indian audiences
through its courageous and bold discussions of religion and religiosity.
The section ‘Hurrah Bollywood!’ featured the best mainstream Hindi cinema from
the last twelve months, such as Haider and Piku, both of the films garnered huge
‘Beyond Bollywood’ presented art house and cinema in regional Indian languages,
with programme highlights including the multi-award winning Tamil drama Kaaka
Muttai, Goli Soda, among others.
‘Films from the Subcontinent’ focused on films from Bangladesh, Pakistan and
Nepal, such as; Burka Avenger, the extremely popular Pakistani animated TV
series about a young masked heroine fighting the Taliban (three episodes were
shown together as a single feature). ‘Girl Power’ featured films celebrating female
characters; ‘Film India World’ focused on Indian films that cross international
borders; while ‘Master Stroke’ showcased some of the greatest classics from
India’s rich cinematic history including screenings of Satyajit Ray’s digitally
remastered classics Charulata and Nayak; the documentaries The Kingdom of Nek
Chand and Calcutta from iconic Australian filmmaker Paul Cox exploring his love
of India and three classics from much loved actor Anil Kapoor, the special guest
of the 2015 Festival. As its closing film, IFFM hosted the world premiere of the
political thriller Phantom.
A carnival of awards, films,
competitions and more…
The Western Union Short Film Competition
A podium to new and enthusiastic filmmakers saw a range of inclusive cinema
with this year’s theme ‘Equality’. Road to Glory, directed by Mark Hellinger and
Jesse Maskell, was awarded the best Australian Short film. And Mark collected the
award at the IFFM Awards Night (plus a trip to India!).
Rape: It’s Your Fault, directed by edgy Indian comedy collective All India
Bakchod, won the award for best Indian short film.
The Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition
With the Katti Batti trio Nikhil Advani, Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan as
judges for the afternoon of dance and celebration had the audience grooving.
Indian funnyman Kiku Sharda, dressed as his moniker Palak tickled the audience
with his wit.
Nikhil Advani, director of the much-anticipated Katti Batti, launched the clip for
new song Sarfira to the excitement of crowd and stars alike.
The overall winners of the day were:
The Dancing Bird (preteen)
Natya Bollywood and Bollywood Dimensions
Hannah Dawson (solo)
A number of Q&As and Masterclass sessions
Legendary Australian auteur Paul Cox captivated audiences with tales of his early
visits to India, and Bengali filmmaker Srijit Mukherji screened his National award-
winning film Chotushkone (whose twist left everybody stunned!)
Director Vinnil Markan treated an enthusiastic cinema to the world premiere of
Zorawar, which concluded to a rousing standing ovation! Dhanak delighted and
enthralled a packed house at Hoyts Melbourne Central, and director Nagesh
Kukunoor and producer Elahe Hiptoola fielded questions from an amazed
audience. Australian filmmaker Ana Tiwary screened her pertinent documentary
Sunshine & Shade, and discussed the effect of racism upon students in our current
climate, among others.
The dazzling Fashion Show….
The evening saw footy players, journalists, actresses, K-pop stars, philanthropists
and Bollywood superstars walk the ramp: in pieces by Australian designers Roopa
Pemmaraju, Susan Dimasi and Richard Nylon, and Indian high-profile designers
Gaurav Gupta and Anamika Khanna. It was a showcase of collaboration between
countries and cultures. The showstopping by Sonam Kapoor saw the night out in
style: with a walk in a breathtaking gown by Anamika Khanna.
2015 Indian Film Festival Melbourne Award Winners
Best Actor: Irrfan Khan – Piku / Shahid Kapoor – Haider
Best Actress: Bhumi Pednekar–Dum Lagake Haisha
Best Director: Shoojit Sircar–Piku
Best Film: Piku
Best Indie Film: Kaaka Muttai (Crows Eggs)
IFFM Excellence in Cinema: Anil Kapoor
Telstra People’s Choice Award: PK
WU Short Film Award Winners: Rape -It’s Your Fault (India) and Road to Glory