The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, the largest film festival in the southern hemisphere, has officially begun. Running from the 10-22nd of August, this film festival began with a vibrant press conference that had the media abuzz. The event that was attended by Rani Mukerji, Rajkumar Hirani, Freida Pinto, Vicky Kaushal, Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal, along with the minister for equality and culture, Martin Foley.
The opening night film brought in eager cinephiles to watch Tabrez Noorani’s Love Sonia at a famous cinema in the city center of Melbourne, starring Manoj Bajpayee, Freida Pinto, Mrunal Thakur and Richa Chadha. Revolving around the life of a young girl who gets trapped in the ugly world of sex trafficking, the film tackles the rather crucial issue of the global flesh trade in the most poignant way possible. When asked about the film, the director Tabrez Noorani said “It was in 2004 when I first met a survivor of sex trafficking. I have worked on this film for a decade to put it together. It wasn’t easy to convince people to produce a film which was based in India and based on a subject of sex trafficking. But we are very happy to have had this opportunity to work on a film that brings forth such an important conversation. I feel for us after this movie if we one girl gets saved, it’s a great achievement for us. We hope people go and watch this film and a dialogue starts to bring a change.”
This morning, immigrants from all across Melbourne flocked to see their favorite superstar, Rani Mukerji, unfurl the Indian tri-color proudly at the iconic Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne city; the ceremony also saw Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, equivalent to the chief minister of the state, and several other important officials in attendance.
With over 10,000 people watching, Rani spoke of the honour and said, “I think it’s a matter of nation honour for anyone to hoist their national flag. And the fact that I’m doing it in Australia so far away from home is even more special and makes it more patriotic. I’m humbled that this honour’s been bestowed upon me by Mitu and the Victorian government so I must thank them. I have had the love of the audiences for the last 22 years and it’s that love that has got me here today. So I must thank the audiences the most. I most remember the patriotic song from my father’s film Hum Hindustani, “Chodo kal Ki Batein”. I really miss him here today.”
Rani Mukerji and Vicky Kaushal also took to the stage to dance with the children from Emotion 21, a dance company that works with children who love dance and have down syndrome. The actors danced to Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire with the children.
One of the other highlights of the festival is the Bollywood Dance Competition, which is held immediately after the flag hoisting ceremony. The competition sees several dance troupes from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and other Australian towns and cities come and compete with one another, performing on their favorite Bollywood numbers. This year, the jury for the competition is Malaika Arora, Nikkhil Advani and Avtar Panesar, the Vice President of International Operations for Yash Raj Films.
Each year IFFM gives many people an opportunity to enjoy a little bit of home away from home. Be it the ability to watch India’s national flag being unfurled on Australian land or listening to music and appreciating the diverse talent our people have to offer and have spread across to everyone else. IFFM brings people closer with these efforts and it can be seen by the sheer turn out that the popularity is increasing!
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