A recap of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2019, one of the city’s iconic celebrations of the arts

If the theme of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is courage, it begins with its creator- Mitu Bhowmick Lange as she serves both artistes and the audience with courage. The force behind what has now come to be known as the southern hemisphere’s biggest celebration of films, Lange exemplifies both courage and conviction as she rolls the IFFM into its tenth year and makes it grow to newer heights.

Chief guest and Bollywood King Shah Rukh Khan, recounted Lange’s dream of starting an Indian film festival a decade ago when he was shooting for Chak De in Melbourne over card games they played during off time. Lange’s nascent dream then is now a full-fledged thriving reality, something that Khan says is at once “so heartening and so encouraging”. And there is his reason why: for something as ‘strangely diverse’ as the Indian film industry, Lange has managed to bring Indian cinema to Australia and to the diaspora, for whom films are what they hanker for to step back into nostalgia and time. Of course, not to mention the honour with which stars are felicitated, Khan added.

As per readers of G’day India and The Indian Weekly, Lange is indeed courage personified. To organise events of such magnitude as the IFFM Awards Night, the Indian flag hoisting ceremony and Bollywood dance competition at Federation Square, masterclasses with Bollywood royalty and outstanding actors and filmmakers and bringing a selection of films that reflect diversity and inclusion is no mean task. That added with the logistics of providing security and maintaining order is something that require great management skills and foresight. Indeed, this icon of a lady deserves credit where it is due.

Ten years ago, getting Indian films and stars to Australia was a rarity and for the hundreds and thousands of Indians and Australians, a selfie with their favourite is no longer a far-fetched dream, thanks to Lange. Standing confident, tall and unfazed by the glitterati, Lange has only one thing on her mind: that the festival is always a success, the guests treated with utmost hospitality and every Melburnian carries a memory to take home.

Lange is happy that “many incredible voices that have come out”. Her festival, she says, has always been tied to the principles of diversity and inclusion, which is why films being showcased are selected with great care.

This year the festival entered its 10th sweet year with Lange able to stretch and challenge the notions of film and entertainment by bringing to Australia the best in the arts. “We have always believed that films are the greatest cultural bridge between countries and communities and IFFM continues to be that with the guests that it invites and with its programs,” she said.

And with courage she makes her contribution to something bigger than herself on the landscape of Australia’s cultural and entertainment landscape. Importantly, fostering such a pioneering idea about cinema among Australia’s burgeoning Indian community and mainstream Australians is a dream many would want to realise.

Best Actor: Vijay Sethupathi for Super Deluxe
Best Actress: Tabu for Andhadhun
Best Film: Gully Boy
Best Director: Sriram Raghavan for Andhadhun
Best Indie film: Bulbul Can Sing
Best Short Film: My Name is Mohamed and Raghad, We Don’t Exist Anymore Be My Brother
Diversity in Cinema: Onir
Telstra People’s Choice Award: Simmba
Excellence in Cinema: Shah Rukh Khan
PwC Equality in Cinema: Chuskit
PwC Equality in Cinema: Super Deluxe

(G’day Staff)