The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2014, presented by the Victorian Government, finally came to a close on Sunday. The 11-day celebration brought Melbourne to a stop as people from all walks of life and ethnicity joined in to enjoy the films and the various events.
The festival was opened by the one and only Amitabh Bachchan with the Australian premiere of Sholay 3D. Bachchan interacted with his fans and answered questions about his films and career with his inimitable wit and candour. The 600-strong audience was left mesmerised as he recited some of the most loved poems written by his father. Bachchan was also honoured by the Victorian government and the festival at the glittering inaugural IFFM Awards night at Melbourne's iconic Princess Theatre.
The heritage listed theatre came alive with roaring appreciation as the awards were given out to the much-loved stars from Bollywood - Bachchan (International Screen Icon award), Kangana Ranuat (Best Actress for Queen), Ritesh Batra (Best Indie Film - The Lunchbox) ,Farhan Akhtar and Irrfan Khan (Best Actor for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and The Lunchbox), Rakeysh Mehra (Best Director & Best Film - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) and Vijay Acharya & Avtar Panesar (People's Choice Award - Dhoom 3).
The esteemed jury of the most respected Australian and Indian film practitioners comprising Jill Billcock (editor of Moulin Rouge, Elizabeth, Romeo + Juliet) , Rajkumar Hirani, Simi Garewal, Rajeev Masand, Phillip Noyce (director of Salt, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Saint, etc) and Suhasini Mani Ratnam were in full force to cheer the winners as selected by them.
The sparkling evening came to a spectacular close with Bachchan playfully taking a selfie with the 2000-strong enthralled audience behind. The festivities continued with the ever popular Bollywood Dance competition held at the iconic Federation Square on May 4. Teams and dancers from all over Australia took part with Malaika Arora Khan, Vijay Acharya (Dhoom 3) and Avtar Panesar (VP, YRF) as judges. The winning dancers were of various ethnicities which was very heart warming and special for Malaika.
The Masterclasses by Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Konkona Sen Sharma inspired young filmmakers who asked questions about the different crafts associated with cinema. Over 45 films, in 20 different languages, from 5 countries including 21 Australian premieres were screened at the 2014 IFFM making it the largest festival of Indian films in the southern hemisphere.
The festival finally came to a stunning close with the Australian premiere of Gyonar Baksho, directed by Aparna Sen and introduced by two-time National Award-winning actress Konkona Sen Sharma.
Film lovers have already started counting days waiting for IFFM 2015!