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Bollywood is an integral part of the Indian DNA: Indians carry this ‘gene’ with them to whichever part of the world they travel, and this is passed down from one generation to another. A great leveller, Bollywood brings together people not only of different age groups, but also of different linguistic, social, cultural and educational backgrounds.
Melbourne’s Indian community is set to bring in a celebration of all things Bollywood shortly. The state of Victoria has managed to win the heart of the local Indian community through their support of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. No other state has offered such support to their Indian community.
Only in its third year so far, the Film Festival has grown in stature by leaps and bounds. It has become one of the most anticipated events in the social calendar of Victoria’s Indian community. For this, credit needs to go both to the politicians with a vision as well as to its contractual company, Mind Blowing Films.
As head of Mind Blowing Films, Mitu Bhowmick Lange has constantly delivered to the state of Victoria on this venture. The festival has been able to bring in India’s lead actors to Melbourne on a regular basis. A-list names such as Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan, Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Malaika Arora Khan etc have trekked down under to link both the state of Victoria and India through Bollywood. Quality events such as the dinner at the residence of one of Australia’s most prestigious families the Pratts, the interaction and involvement of high society with Bollywood, and the public events such as the dance competitions, short film contests and master classes with film-makers have brought in the masses not only from within the community but from the mainstream as well.
Like with most other endeavours, there has been some debate of the value and people behind this venture (the no-show of the iconic star Amitabh Bachchan at last year’s event was one such controversy). However, the success of the past IFFM functions has vindicated the confidence which the Victorian government has placed in Mitu Bhowmick Lange and her Mind Blowing Films. While most detractors have had vested interests in grabbing a headline, it seems that no one has yet been able to share their vision of how an alternative can be established. Till another formula is found, that which is working, ought to be appreciated.
This brings us to an interesting observation about Indian links in Victoria. What Victoria has done well, with the efforts of well-meaning individuals, is to block at least two high profile events in the calendars of the local Indian community. The Victorian Festival of Lights at Federation Square (with its team headed by the dynamic and visionary Arun Sharma) and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne executed by Mitu Bhowmick Lange have established a new quorum on successful public events in the Indian community in Australia. The wider Indian community in Australia needs to appreciate these offerings and emulate them.
Of course, if Victoria ever tires of these community endeavours, other states (especially NSW which is sadly bereft of anything substantial Bollywood-based), could grab these great opportunities to engage with local Indians who are bonded by all things Bollywood.