IFFM brings diverse, inclusive Indian cinema to Australia

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Melbourne : Diversity and inclusion, which have taken centrestage in talks surrounding the global entertainment industry, are being represented prominently in the line-up of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) 2018, which gets underway here on Friday.

With Tabrez Noorani's "Love Sonia" -- on the issue of sex trafficking -- as the opening film, the ninth edition of the gala will also screen the box office hit " Sanju", the issue-based and sensitive "Hichki", as well as widely acclaimed films like "Village Rockstars", "Nude", "Balekempa" and "Gali Guleiyan".Australia is a key foreign market for Indian cinema, given that Indians make one of the largest migrant community in the country.Even the non-diaspora population is taking a growing interest in what Indian movies have to offer, says IFFM Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange.Inclusion is the theme of the film festival, where a cohesive mix of commercial Hindi films, regional movies and indie dramas will be screened till August 22 here.Lange told IANS: "Inclusion is an all-encompassing, wonderful theme which touches upon all -- disabled, gender, sexuality or race. There has been a lot of positive awareness."I feel that probably our Indian entertainment industry is the most inclusive industry where your educational background, your caste, creed, race doesn't really matter as long as you get the work done."Still, she feels the global showbiz world has a long way to go as far as being inclusive of the differently abled is concerned. As part of the fest, Rani Mukerji-starrer "Hichki" -- a film about a woman with Tourette's Syndrome -- will be shown.The actress will be feted by the Victorian Government, which has been supporting the festival since its third edition."The government has embraced the festival. It's a very tight partnership and that's the Victorian government's way of engaging with India -- of showing how important India is to Australia and to the Victorian government," Lange said.Government officials will also be present at the Federation Square here on August 11, when Rani will hoist the Indian flag ahead of the Independence Day.Some of the other celebrities who will be a part of the fest include Rajkumar Hirani, Vicky Kaushal, Simi Garewal, Nikhhil Advani, Richa Chadha, Ali Fazal, Dhanush, Manoj Bajpayee, Malaika Arora, Freida Pinto and Sachin-Jigar.Advani is a jury member, and is visiting the fest for the third time."To see Indian films being celebrated and being recognised majorly in the land Down Under for me as a filmmaker is very rewarding," Advani said.For Vicky, it's his maiden time in Melbourne and he is looking forward to interacting with cinema lovers here.Composers Sachin-Jigar will perform the opening act at the awards night of the fest -- where "Padmaavat" and "Sanju" are leading the nomination pack -- on August 12. They are excited as it's the first time they will perform inA Australia."We will be performing in two sets. The first will comprise our hit songs, and the second will be about patriotic numbers," the composers behind the tunes of "Gold", told IANS.One day will be dedicated to panel discussions, while Simi will do a special tribute to late actor Shashi Kapoor, with whom she featured in the 1972 film "Siddhartha". The film will be shown too.(Radhika Bhirani is in Melbourne on the invitation of the IFFM organisers. She can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)