A festival of stars and cinema

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Westpac IFFM Awards Night at Melbourne Recital Centre pays tribute to some of the best of Indian cinema
Raj Gondaliya and his wife with Aishwarya Rai and Rajeev Masand. Photo courtesy: Raj Gondaliya
Jospephs Gate

Westpac IFFM Awards Night at Melbourne Recital Centre pays tribute to some of the best of Indian cinema

The Indian Film Festival 2017 was the biggest ever, with 8 festival venues, including five HOYTS cinemas, and the iconic Drum Theatre in Dandenong.

Opening Night of the IFFM was successful, with two sold out cinema halls showing the controversial film, Lipstick Under My Burkha, introduced by the film’s director, Alankrita Shrivastava and lead star, Konkona Sen Sharma.

At Federation Square on 12 August, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan became the first woman to hoist the Indian national flag for the festival, celebrating India’s 70th year of independence

The Westpac IFFM Awards Night at Melbourne Recital Centre paid tribute to some of the best of Indian cinema, with big Indian stars in attendance such as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karan Johar, Malaika Arora, Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and more. The night concluded with the felicitation of Aishwarya with the Westpac Excellence in Cinema Award.

The Western Union Short Film Competition was also presented on the awards night. Mark Hellinger, with his short film documentary, Sudo Ballin, an exploration of basketball among the Sudanese community here in Melbourne, won the competition.

At Federation Square on 12 August, Aishwarya became the first woman to hoist the Indian national flag for the festival, celebrating India’s 70th year of independence. A spectacular crowd congregated to celebrate and catch a glimpse of the star.

Following the flag hoisting, the Telstra Bollywood Dance competition started, with surprise guests Karan Johar and Sushant Singh Rajput joining judges Malaika Arora and Aussie Bessie Kay. Three teams and a solo performer walked away with great prizes from Telstra and Singapore Airlines.

With a Masterclass from Vikram Phadnis and another from Taran Adarsh, along a dazzling array of discussions hosted by Rajeev Masand with top celebrities from Indian cinema, Melbourne audiences were spoilt for choice. Screenings throughout the festival were peppered with Q and As from directors and stars.

It all ended on high note with closing night’s special guests Raveena Tandon, Onir, Ashish Bisht, Raj Sury and Adil Hussain. Onir’s drama about human emotions, SHAB was a hit with the audience, being praised for its storytelling and complexity. Entrepreneur and community leader Manjit Singh praised festival director Mitu Bhowmick’s efforts in running the festival in Melbourne. Singh said, “I respect Mitu’s efforts in organising such a grand festival every year in Melbourne. The main highlight of the festival for me is the Independence Day celebrations at Fed Square. I want to support and grow this festival, make it bigger. I want more and more members of the Indian community to support this festival.”

Meeting Ash

Dear editor,

I just like to share my experience meeting actor Aishwarya Rai in Melbourne recently. We all know Aishwarya as an actress but I just like to say as a person, she is humble. My wife and I were lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

Westpac IFFM Awards Night at Melbourne Recital Centre pays tribute to some of the best of Indian cinema
Raj and his wife with Aishwarya Rai. Photo courtesy: Raj Gondaliya

Aishwarya was getting ready for an interview with Rajeev Masand, when we asked for a photo with her. I still cannot believe how considerate she was. I think her interview was going for half an hour and she didn’t want us to wait till her interview ended so she asked us to come forward to pose for a photo before her interview. We had the opportunity to have a quick chat with her as well.

It was good to see her daughter Aaradhya at Federation Square with her during the flag hoisting ceremony as Aishwarya was to attend the Film Festival during her trip to Melbourne. What I found inspiring from her is she is a hands-on mother, balancing work life and personal life.

We like to think being Aishwarya it would be easier for her to maintain a work-life balance but I guess she would have her own challenges. Life is not problem-free for anyone. I think it’s inspiring for women how she has maintained a dignified status as a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother and above all—a woman. It would not be wrong even if we call her a super-woman.

Regards,
Raj Gondaliya

 

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