Bollywood 101 Film Festival celebrates the other Australian Indian relationship

Media release
19 February 2014
celebrating 101 years of Indian cinema

Bollywood enthusiasts and those who are new to the genre should book their passage to Newcastle for a special Bollywood film festival and conference celebrating 101 years of Indian cinema tomorrow, Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February.

Co organiser, Dr Amit Sarwal, who is a post doctoral fellow with Deakin University's Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, said the festival will be a celebration of the 101st year and also a play on 1-0-1 (one-to-one).

"Through this film festival we want people to not only enjoy but also interact with the people behind these films and know more about Bollywood," he said.

Dr Sarwal said Bollywood was one of the most fascinating film industries in the world packaged with romance, melodrama, action, costumes, songs and dance.

"Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, India – one of the largest centres of film production in the world," he said.

"The term "Bollywood" originated in journalistic circles in the 1970s as a portmanteau derived from 'Bombay' (the former name for Mumbai) and 'Hollywood'.

Dr Sarwal said Dadasaheb Phalke presented India with its first silent film, Raja Harishchandra on 3 May 1913 and last year 2013 marked the 100 years of Indian cinema."

"More than 23 million people watch a Bollywood film in India," he said.

"Most films are heavily inspired from international cinema, but in that moment of 'inspiration' Bollywood creates a cultural adaptation packaged with romance, melodrama, action, costumes, songs and dance extravaganzas that suit Indian audiences' desires and their understanding of the world around them.

"It is also a serious contributor to the world economy, this year the industry is expected to grow to US$3 billion."

Dr Sarwal who has traced the successful careers of some Australians in the Hindi film industry, is presently working on a project examining the Indian Visitors Program and how key Indian public figures (artistes and journalists) viewed Australia in the aftermath of decolonisation, 1947-80.

"The reception of Indian cinema in Australia had changed over the years," he said.

"In the early years, only development based films made with the support of Indian government were showcased in Australia to avail Colombo Plan aid," he said.

"But post-1960s, Indian cinema has played an import role in creating perceptions about India in Australia be it the Greek subtitled or dubbed versions of Indian classics like Mother India or screenings of these films in Hindi at the Indian High Commission on special occasions or in private parties of Indian Aussies.

"Since the late 1990s a lot of projects have materialised between the Indian and Australian film industries including Features Films, Music Videos, TV Commercials, and Film festivals."

Dr Sarwal said a growing Indian diaspora in Australia and popular demand to screen movies in multiplex cinemas, coupled with the availability of cheap VHS or DVDs of latest films, had seen Bollywood grow into a globalized cultural industry in its own right.

"As an industry it has successfully transcended the confines of India and is a serious tool in India's soft power armoury," he said.

"Various Australian state tourism bodies have also supported Bollywood productions and by doing so Australia's reputation as a welcoming nation."

Dr Sarwal said Bollywood 101 Film Festival on 20th February 2014 will be held at the Tower Cinema, Newcastle.

"The film festival will feature three short films/documentaries and 1 Bollywood film," he said.

"I Am Megha is a 2011 Indian anthology film by Onir (presented by Raj Suri), which is a story of two friends––a Kashmiri Pandit woman and a Muslim woman––separated by conflict.

"It is set against the backdrop of the exodus of Hindu's in Kashmir in early 90's, and is a story of loss of home and identity."

Dr Sarwal said another film - Dancing to the Tunes of Bollywood – a documentary by Dr Vikrant Kishore explored the use of Song and Dance in Bollywood films.

"It feature first hand interviews with some of the well-established Bollywood directors, actors and dance directors.

"In Indian Aussies: Terms & Conditions Apply – a short documentary by well-known filmmaker Anupam Sharma explores the width and breath of culture, education, and identity amongst Indian Aussies.

"The highlight of the evening will be Raajneeti (Politics), a 2010 Indian political thriller directed and produced by Prakash Jha, which stars Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpayee and Naseeruddin Shah in the lead roles. The film is being screened courtesy Prakash Jha Productions and Screen Hunter Central Coast.

The film festival will precede an academic conference Bollywood and Its Other(s) on Friday, February 21.

In Indian Aussies: Terms & Conditions Apply - film trailer

Raajneeti (Politics) - film trailer

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