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A who’s who of Indian Bollywood cinema descends on the entertainment capital of Australia

Indian Bollywood actor Tamannaah Bhatia alone has 17.5 million Instagram followers.

Indian Bollywood actor Tamannaah Bhatia alone has 17.5 million Instagram followers. Photo: Getty

Move aside Hollywood for song, dance and brilliance – the largest and most vibrant global movie industry is Bollywood, and it’s coming Down Under again after a two-year hiatus.

Developed in Mumbai a century ago, Indian cinema continues to thrive, and its biggest stars have descended on Melbourne for the largest annual celebration of Indian cinema outside the Indian sub-continent.

According to the 2021 Census, there are more than 710,000 Indian-born residents living in Australia, and Melbourne has the largest population.

So strap yourselves in people, it’s going to be a big weekend.

Described as a ‘‘hybrid’’, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) will showcase more than 100 films from a range of genres, themes, and voices and it all can be experienced in person in cinemas across Melbourne as well as streaming free through the IFFM app.

So who’s coming?

We all know India’s first World Cup-winning captain, Kapil Dev, who has now been immortalised in recent Indian flick, 83.

If you’re new to the industry’s biggest stars – who are treated like royalty back home and have a combined Instagram following of a staggering 70 million followers – meet Bollywood royalty Abhishek Bachchan and Indian movie stars Tamannaah Bhatia, Vaani Kapoor, Shefali Shah and Taapsee Pannu.

“We are absolutely delighted to have IFFM come back physically this year alongside an exciting virtual programming,’’ IFFM festival director Mitu Bhowmick Lange said.

‘‘To have with us a legendary cricketer, Kapil Dev in honour of a film based on his iconic 1983 World Cup win, we are excited to have him in Melbourne.’’

He said the city was preparing to celebrate Indian cinema ‘‘in all its glory and diversity’’.

Bollywood dancers are set to light up Federation Square on Saturday. Photo: AAP

A city of cinema and cricket-lovers alike

From August 12 to 14, the huge Indian cinema fanbase can travel across the city, from Federation Square to the Arts Centre, and to the Palais and Hoyts theatres to catch a glimpse of the stars and watch a few flicks.

Mumbai-born Himangi Singh, 25, based in Melbourne since 2020, tells The New Daily  there is a huge appetite for Indian cinema.

“People are really into film in India. From school kids to grandparents, they all love Indian movies, Bollywood movies.

“The stars are put on a pedestal, treated like royalty … so having them come here, and to have Bollywood movies not only celebrated in India but around the world, is really cool.

“The Indian community in Melbourne will be really excited to have Abhishek Bachchan come here,” she said.

The festival’s centrepiece event, the star-studded IFFM Awards are back. They include new awards, including best film from the subcontinent and best streaming series.

To mark the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence on Saturday, thousands will flood Federation Square for a flag-raising ceremony and a stunning Bollywood dance competition.

As for films, award-winning feature The Rapist, which was recently awarded the prestigious Kim Jiseok Award at the Busan International Film Festival, will screen and the film’s director Aparna Sen and her daughter, actor Konkona Sen Sharma are set to attend.

The stars of Joyland, winners of the Cannes 2022 Jury Prize, are in town as is Amazon series director of Mumbai Diaries 26/11 and founder of India’s premier content company, Abundantia Entertainment, Vikram Malhotra.

Celebrated Indian director and director of Amazon thriller Jalsa, Suresh Triveni and the team behind documentary Ayena (Mirror), and acid survivors Ritu Saini, Farah Khan and Nilanjan Bhattacharya are on the guest list.

University professor Dr Amit Sarwal wrote in The Conversation that Bollywood often becomes the face of Indian cinemas.

‘‘As a genre it has grown and developed over a period of 100 years, coloured by India’s history, politics, socio-economic conditions, culture, sensibilities, dreams, fantasies, hopes and expectations.

‘‘In the 1990s Bollywood emerged, post-economic liberalisation of India, as a strong, globalised industry and India’s biggest cultural ambassador to the world.

‘‘Many films are accused of being copied or inspired from world cinemas but in the moment of ‘inspiration’ Bollywood creates a unique cultural adaptation packaged with romance, melodrama, action, costumes, songs and dance extravaganzas that suit global Indian audiences’ desires and their understanding of the world around them.’’

He said Australia had become a ‘‘hot destination for Bollywood as well as regional language film-makers’’.

Ms Singh says the release of so many movies will attract big audiences over the next few weeks: ‘‘I think Bollywood in Australia is great’’.

The 2022 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne runs from August 12 to 20 in cinemas and August 13 to 30 online.

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