Bringing more investment, cinema to Victoria

By Prachi Panchal
IAEF’s “7 Cs and beyond” networking evening discusses the Indian community’s role in areas like culture and commerce

IAEF’s “7 Cs and beyond” networking evening discusses the Indian community’s role in areas like culture and commerce

The India Australia Exchange Forum (IAEF) team organised a networking event in the marginal seat of Bentleigh on Friday, 28 April. The event was supposed to be about commerce and cricket, but turned out to be about the “7 Cs and beyond”―that encompassed cinema, census, charity, community and cultural hubs.

The guest of honour for the evening was Victorian Minister for Trade Philip Dalidakis. Indian billionaire and politician Naveen Jindal was represented by Milind Oza (CEO―Wollongong Coal), while other business legends like Mukesh Kohle (CEO―Suzlon Australia), Madhur and Pooja Gupta (Manhari Metals), and various other Victorian SME stakeholders were present at the event.

In terms of commerce, Minister Dalidakis expressed his desire to attract Indian owned companies like Wollongong Coal to invest in Victoria. He jokingly said that he would love to cut the Wollongong Coal Mine from SW Map, and paste it on the Victorian map.

The Australia India Business Council (AIBC Victoria) was a community partner for the event as well. Around 50 plus AIBC members attended the networking event including six executive members, two advisory and mentoring board members, and around 12 Chapter and roundtable heads.

IAEF’s “7 Cs and beyond” networking evening discusses the Indian community’s role in areas like culture and commerce

The event was mainly about community networking. Community legends such as former ministerial advisers Nitin Gupta and Jasvinder Sidhu, AFL Adviser Darpan Mittal, VMC representative Chidambaram Srinivasan, socialites Roshni Sharma and Anchal Agarwal, and various other prominent members of Victorian Indian community interacting at the event.

Veteran Bollywood actor Vishwajeet Pradhan who has starred in more than 250 movies was present at the event along with his wife―ace designer Sonalika Pradhan (Vitamin). Local artists and cinema stakeholders such as Sandeep Raj, Tripti Gupta, Dheepa Awtani, Mandy Bose, Preeti Daga, Josh Jesh and various others were present, and also contributing in the proceedings of the event in various roles.

There were discussions with Minister Dalidakis about giving local Victorian Indian artists more opportunities, and South Indian film industry stakeholders more presence at the state government-funded IFFM. Lack of diversity on mainstream Australian screens was another issue raised.

Film Victoria has failed to attract any significant Indian film production house to shoot in Melbourne for about a decade now, and many in the community feel it’s high time to engage more with the commercially lucrative South Indian cinema, rather than just focusing on one or two individual factions of Bollywood producers.

It would be interesting to see if the Film Victoria is able to attract upcoming multimillion dollar mega movie “Sangamithra” to shoot in and around Melbourne; and if the IFFM would be able to attract any decent stakeholders involved from the mega magnum opus set to be unveiled at Cannes.

IAEF’s “7 Cs and beyond” networking evening discusses the Indian community’s role in areas like culture and commerce

The event was also about watching a live streaming cricket match of the lucrative billion dollar Indian Premier League (IPL). Rashi Kapoor represented the upcoming Indian Junior Premier League (IJPL), and there were representatives from Cricket Australia present as well at the IAEF event. The presence of around 20 AFL Multicultural Ambassadors led to the AFL V/S Cricket debate, with the main topic of discussion being how the AFL, unlike Australian cricket authorities, spends more resources and time engaging with the Victorian Indian community.

With highlights from ABS 2016 Census confirming that the Indian community is the biggest migrant group in Victoria, the challenges faced by the Victorian Indian community became the focal point. Lack of Indian representation at Victorian Parliament and mainstream Australian screens remain the main challenges.

With the third Indian cultural hub announced for Monash, despite no clear plans about two earlier proposed Indian cultural hubs in Dandenong and Wyndham, the discussions about community hubs was a hot topic during the event. Cranbourne (Casey) residents feel that they also deserve an Indian hub based on census figures, and their extended share of contribution to the “Growth Area Infrastructure Contribution” (GAIC). It would be hard for both major parties to ignore the marginal seat of Cranbourne.

The evening also saw funds raised for charity―to build toilets in India as part of PM Narendra Modi’s “Clean India Initiative”. A cheque of AU$ 5,000 dollars was presented for building toilets in Bikaner, Rajasthan.

Kudos to the IAEF core team of Amit Karnath, Shivesh Pandey, Prajesh Goswami, Kunal Mehta, Ashwin Bora, and Vijeth Shetty for pulling off yet another highly successful event.