Bedazzled by IFFM

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We’re left covered in stardust as Bollywood’s most glamorous come visiting

Melbourne’s Indian community got to wrap their peepers around plenty of glitz and glamour recently, as India’s film industry stars came down as guests of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). Displaying their national preoccupation with all things filmi, innumerable fans thronged to various venues to catch a glimpse of their favourite artists.

Indian cinephiles, no matter which part of the world they live in, are forever hungry for quality films and cinematic treats from the subcontinent. This year’s Indian Film Festival of Melbourne showcased a selection of contemporary and popular films from the world’s largest film industry. Patrons were also exposed to a selection of films from across the globe.

This is the fourth year running for this Festival under the stewardship of Mitu Bhowmick Lange, and with each passing year, it seems to be growing in scope and significance. This year the event was moved to coincide with India’s Independence Day celebrations causing some overlaps with the social calendar as people had to make choices between attending the Festival or other Independence Day events planned around town.

Opening Night

The Opening Night at Hoyts Melbourne Central went off smoothly barring a few run-ins with the tight security as people attempted to get closer to the forever young and versatile actor Anil Kapoor and his beautiful daughter, actress and fashionista Sonam Kapoor. The selfie brigade was hot on the heels of the stars but the hired muscles often thwarted their attempts.

Sonam Kapoor looked elegant in an off shoulder Diogo Miranda outfit while Anil Kapoor belied all statistics to look dapper and fit despite his late fifties. Expertly fielding comments and declarations of undying love from their fans the father daughter duo kept the audience engaged during their brief appearance.

In the adjoining cinema, trail blazing actress Kangana Ranaut, actor Imran Khan and director Nikhil Advani also responded to the gushing, querying crowd. Their upcoming release Katti Batti got a massive plug that evening. Imran endeared himself further to his female fans by posing happily for selfies. At one stage, young girls tripped over themselves and each other to take photos with the dashing actor until security extricated the actor from the crowd.

Kangana Ranaut who has earned fame as one of the most fashionable actresses in the film industry said yoga and meditation helped her to acquire an inner beauty that makes her look beautiful on the outside.

Sporting brown floor length Manish Malhotra couture, Kangana Ranaut said, “I feel that it is a blessing for me to have mediocre looks as it helps me as an actor to blend into different roles,” Kangana earnestly answered all the questions posed to her however she refused to mouth any dialogues from her films claiming to have forgotten most of them and finding it hard to recollect.

Prashant Nair’s drama film Umrika was selected to launch the Festival starring Suraj Sharma from Life Of Pi fame. A sound script and a talented cast had helped the film to win the World Cinema dramatic audience award at the Sundance Festival 2015. Once the stars left, not many people stayed back to watch the movie, but those who did found it to be well tuned in all departments.

 

Independence Day

Day 2 of the IFFM saw an Indian flag hoisting ceremony at Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square. Newly appointed Indian High Commissioner to Australia Navdeep Suri joined actor Anil Kapoor to hoist the Indian tricolour amidst thousands of supporters. In his address to the audience Anil Kapoor urged Indian global citizens to take it upon themselves to further the growth and progress as India marches towards becoming a super power.

“Whatever professions we practice, whatever avenues we foray into, let’s promise ourselves that we will always strive for excellence,” he told an adoring crowd.

 

Dance contest and Western Union Short Film competition

Later that afternoon the boundless talent of Australia’s youngsters was on display at the Telstra Bollywood Competition. The popular free event, held at the Federation Square, attracted audience and participation from all over Australia. This year again there was Bollywood buzz aplenty with the presence of actors Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan and director Nikhil Advani, who served as judges this time round.

The true balle bale moment was however claimed by Telstra, who raked in 10,000 sms on the voting lines from the enthusiastic audience. As one of the Festival staples, the Western Union Short Film Competition was also held with entries sought from India, Australia and New Zealand. The Festival’s theme of equality was explored through a range of different lenses, from gender and sexuality to disability and religion. It’s My Fault, a satirical video on rape in India featuring Kalki Koechlin and VJ Juhi Pandey won the top award for its creators the All India Backchod. Mark Hellinger won the Australian filmmaker awards for Road to Glory.

 

Fashion Show and Awards Night

The piece de resistance was undoubtedly the Equality Fashion show and awards night that was held at the National Gallery Of Victoria. The gala red carpet event combined the best of Indian and Australian fashions to create a haute show that rocked the ramp. Designs from Anamika Khanna, Gaurav Gupta, Richard Nylon, Roopa Pemmaraju and Susan Dimasi created a spectacular, combination of fluidity technique and femininity.

Lydia Schiavelllo from Real Housewives Melbourne, conquered the runway with style. Yesteryears actress Simi Grewal, also known as the Lady in White was elegance personified on the ramp. Local and international models sashayed down the ramp in various enviable creations followed by Sonam Kapoor as the showstopper. She wowed everyone in an Anamaika Khanna creation. Renowned dance exponent Tara Rajkumar OAM was also seen on the runway resplendent in a red saree.

After the fashion show, the IFFM Awards were handed out in various categories (see below). Some of the recipients were present to collect their reward from the dignitaries. At this stage an appeal was made to the audience to purchase the outfits generously donated by the designers. The proceeds from the sales were to go towards the Royal Children’s Hospital.

The evening ended with Anil Kapoor receiving the IFFM Excellence In Cinema award followed by the mandatory group selfie with festival attendees, organisers and guests.

Other Festival events include the Yarra Trams selfie competition, master classes and Q and A with eminent directors, actors and comedians. The Festival will continue until 27 August giving people an opportunity to enjoy cinematic immersion into films that aim to reflect on the complexity, vitality and diversity of Indian cinema.

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INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF MELBOURNE AWARD WINNERS

Best Actor: Irrfan Khan – Piku
Best Actress: Bhumi Pednekar – Dum Lagake Haisha
Best Director: Shoojit Sircar – Piku
Best Film: Piku
Best Indie Film: Kaaka Muttai – Crows Egg
IFFM Excellence in Cinema: Anil Kapoor
Telstra People’s Choice Award: PK