NEW DELHI: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bchchan, whose latest film ‘Bhootnath Returns’ was released this week, is to open the Indian Film Festival Melbourne 2014 on 1 May.
The 2014 festival programme was launched in Melbourne by Louise Asher, Australian Minister for Innovation, Tourism and Major Events and Employment and Trade, and Bollywood diva and Festival Ambassador Vidya Balan. The Festival CEO Mitu Bhowmick Lange was also present.
According to Asher, Bachchan is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema. So total was his dominance of the movie scene in the 1970s and 1980s that the French director Francois Truffaut called him a “one-man industry”.
Addressing media persons, Asher said that the festival will be held from 1 to 11 May and feature over 40 films, with more than half being Australian premieres. “Films will be shown in 20 languages and we will have five free screenings at Federation Square,” Asher said. “Victorians and all visitors to Melbourne are in for a treat of Indian films this year.
“It will be an honour to have Bachchan here, just a year after he opened the Cannes Film Festival with his Great Gatsby co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio,” Asher said.
“In response to community feedback, the festival has also added to the programme an exciting new section called New Voices, which will feature six films from first time filmmakers,” Asher said.
Other industry guests include Konkona Sen Sharma, Vijay Krishna Acharya (director of Dhoom 3), Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (director of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag), Hassan Waqas Rana and Shaan Shahid (producer and star respectively of Waar, Pakistan’s highest-grossing box office hit of all time), and South Indian actor-producer Suhasini Maniratnam.
Asher said this year’s festival would see the return of Festival favourites, such as the interactive master classes, Western Union Short Film competition and the Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition, to be judged by the incredible actor/producer Malaika Arora Khan, a judge on TV show India’s Got Talent.
Asher said “Balan is a great friend of Victoria, and known for her roles portraying strong female protagonists. She launched the 2012 and 2013 Festivals and it is an honour and a pleasure to have her back this year.”
She added: “The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne brings prominent Indian filmmakers and screen professionals to Melbourne, helps promote Victoria as an international screen production destination, and provides opportunities todevelop Victorian and Indian screen partnerships.”
Balan said she felt at home in Melbourne and would come back again with her husband soon. She thanked the Victorian government for supporting the IFFM 2014 and she considered the festival as a personal achievement.
IFFM Festival director Lange said the 2014 IFFM would be the most exciting and ambitious festival yet. “We could not have asked for a better chief guest than the patriarch of Indian cinema and one of the most iconic Indians of all times, Amitabh Bachchan, to open the festival on 1 May.”
“The inaugural IFFM Awards takes the festival to a new level and we are all very excited to see who the winners will be. I hope you will all join in with your friends and family to celebrate the magic of cinema!,” Lange ended.