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Indian Film Festival: Bollywood & Beyond (IFF) in Australia


The 2011 Indian Film Festival: Bollywood & Beyond (IFF) has welcomed seven of the finest filmmaking and acting talents in Indian cinema to the country for IFF's Sydney and Melbourne openings - acclaimed multi award-winning actress Vidya Balan; actor/producer, pop star and supermodel Malaika Arora Khan; Pakistani pop sensation and new acting talent, Ali Zafar; directors Kabir Khan (Kabul Express); and Raj Kumar Gupta (Aamir); actor turned producer Arbaaz Khan; and producer Leslee Udwin (East is East).


IFF was also ecstatic when Festival guest, Malaika Arora Khan cheered on a crowd of over 1500 Melbournians to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for ‘Largest Bollywood Dance' on Saturday.


Other IFF highlights have included free screenings in Melbourne's Federation Square, ‘Meet the Maker' Q&A sessions with the visiting filmmakers, a glamorous gala in Melbourne, The Great Bollywood Dance Competition, and the support of one of India's biggest names in entertainment, Australia's own Matt Preston. Masterchef is the most successful non-Hindi program on Indian TV and Matt Preston is an absolute superstar in India.


IFF is looking forward to the arrival of actor/producer Juhi Chawla and director Onir (My Brother... Nikhil) who will be here to introduce their film I AM, an innovative exploration of some of the issues facing modern Indian society which consists of four short films based on real-life stories and connected by the central theme of fear. The film was financed by donations from more than 400 people from around the world through social media sites such as Facebook, allowing the creators the freedom to tackle normally taboo subjects.


I AM will close IFF in both Sydney (19 March) and Melbourne (20 March) and open IFF in Adelaide on Tuesday 22 March. Onir and Juhi will be in attendance in each city. The Hon. Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann will officially launch IFF in Adelaide.

IFF commenced in Sydney on Wednesday 9 March with the Australian premiere screening of UK producer Leslee Udwin's WEST IS WEST at Hoyts Cinema Paris. On Friday IFF came to Melbourne with the brilliantly Bollywood feature, DABANGG at Hoyts Melbourne Central, starring Salman Khan, Malaika Arora Khan and husband Arbaaz Khan (also the film's producer). Both cities also screened NO ONE KILLED JESSICA on their opening nights. NO ONE KILLED JESSICA is a political thriller based on the true story of a murder by the son of a prominent politician and subsequent crusade for justice by the victim's sister. The film stars Vidya Balan and is directed by Raj Kumar Gupta.


As part of the ongoing 2011 Indian Film Festival: Bollywood & Beyond, the festival created a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for ‘Largest Bollywood Dance'. Over 1500 Melbournians had to dance in unison for three mins to break the existing record. Bollywood dancers from the renowned Shiamak Davar Dance Academy and the general public alike shook it to the biggest chartbuster of 2010, the hit song Muuni Bandam Hui which Malaika performs in highest grossing film in India in 2010, DABANGG. It was a magical moment when the Guinness adjudicator declared the results and presented the prestigious certificate.


Malaika Arora Khan says, ‘Honestly I think it will be something I'll always remember. It's one of the most amazing moments of my life, both for being so far away from home but feeling the enthusiasm and love from the crowd and for the sheer magnitude of the event. The atmosphere was so fun and exciting with everyone waiting with baited breath to see if we'd broken the record or not. The Indian Film Festival did a tremendous job organising the event so a big thank you to them and to the Melbourne dancers who made it happen.'


IFF tours Sydney (9-19 March), Melbourne (11-20 March), Adelaide (22-29 March) and Auckland (24 March to 3 April), showcasing the best of Indian cinema. The program which celebrates the traditional Bollywood sequins and fantasy and demonstrates the depth of contemporary Indian film features over 30 films including two world premieres, 15 Australian premieres and a VIDYA BALAN RETROSPECTIVE.


With a few days to go in Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide still to open and such a varied and exciting program, film lovers still have a lot to look forward to.


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