University of Newcastle hosts two days ‘Bollywood 101 Film Festival’

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The School of Design, Communication and IT, University of Newcastle organized a two days event – Bollywood 101 Film Festival starting 8th May 2015 at the Tower Cinema and Creative and Cultural Dimensions of Bollywood Symposium at the TV Studio, ICT Building, University of Newcastle, Callaghan.

Dr Vikrant Kishore, Dr Susan Kerrigan and Dr Amit Sarwal were the conveners of the symposium and film festival and Abbas Zaheer, the coordinator.

According to Dr Kishore, “Bollywood 101 film festival is an attempt to bring Bollywood cinema and Indian documentary to the people of the Hunter region. The festival and symposium was started in 2014 and received a great response, therefore, we went ahead with the second edition of the festival.  The participation from the academia, community and media has been great.”

The popularity of Bollywood cinema and Bollywood based events has touched the Hunter region in last few years, and Bollywood 101 film festival aims to bring both entertainment and meaningful cinema to the people and provide them an opportunity to not just watch the films, but also take part in the discussions and Bollywood party thereafter… thus making it a truly a festive environment. The curated films featured Indian national award winning films and documentaries.

Bollywood Film Festival , University of Newcastle

Bollywood Film Festival , University of Newcastle

The symposium had participants from various parts of Australia. Dr Anne Llewellyn -the Head of School of Design, Communication and IT inaugurated the symposium; Dr Phillip McIntyre delivered the keynote, where he discussed about ‘Creativity in Bollywood’.

Madhvi Mohindra discussed the various aspects of Bollywood and organising Bollywood related events in Australia, whereas, Simon Wilmot – Head of Discipline (Creative Arts, Deakin University) presented a paper on how Bollywood studies can be included in Australian media courses.

Sunjay Sudhir, the Indian Consul General, Sydney, was the valedictory speaker at the Symposium; the Consul General praised the efforts by the organisers to bring Indian cinema to Newcastle. He also was quite impressed with the symposium theme that focused on the creative and cultural dimensions on Bollywood.

Sudhir reminded participants that in today’s context Bollywood is not just representing Hindi cinema… and when we discuss Bollywood we should include other dominant regional cinema as well, which the symposium did very well.

The Bollywood 101 film festival at Tower Cinema on 8th May featured three films namely, The Untold a short 16 minute fiction film directed by Vasu Vangala, Dancing to the Tunes of Bollywood II a 30 minutes documentary by Vikrant Kishore, which brings to the fore discussions regarding how Bollywood song-dance sequences are having considerable influence on the traditional folk dance forms of India, both in terms of form and content. Indian national award winning film – Queen was also screened that was highly appreciated by the audience.

Bollywood Film Festival

Bollywood Film Festival

On 9th May, the film festival was held at the Regal Cinema. Two award winning Indian documentaries – The Rat Race and Shapath (Promise) and a Bollywood blockbuster film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (This Youth is Crazy) were screened. Dance groups Chakras performing Arts, the Bam Bam Sistaz and solo Bollywood style performer Dheeraja entertained the audience with their performances.

The highlight of the festival was the cultural performances by the local Newcastle groups such as Chakras Group – that performed on a medley of Indian classical and Bollywood music, The Bam Bam Sistas  – an African Dance Hall group presented “Lovely” song in an African remixed version that mesmerized the audience, and the Sydney based Monsuum Dance group, who presented a highly energetic form of Punjabi folk dance Bhangra, and the Gujarati folk dance Dandiya Raas, using the rhythms and percussion of choreographed dance with sticks.

Two academic books were also released during this festival. An edited book “Bollywood and Its Others – Towards New Configurations’ by Vikrant Kishore, Amit Sarwal and Parichay Patra, and another book authored ‘From Real to Reel – Folk Dances of India in Bollywood Cinema by Vikrant Kishore was released by Mr Sunjay Sudhir, the Consul General of India-Sydney.

Dr Kishore states, “At the University of Newcastle, we have included Bollywood as one of the research units and for the Music Video and Foundations of Media Production Course students work on some of the aspects of Bollywood song and dance, which is a first in any Australian University. In 2013, the Music Video students at the University made a Bollywood style music video as a part of their course. All the students loved the experience and engaged with the aspects of making Bollywood style song and dance.”

Dr Susan Kerrigan, feels that the symposium with academic and practitioners as presenters has helped discuss key issues in Bollywood.

Bollywood Film Festival

Bollywood Film Festival

”  In the last three years, there have been some interesting events organized by the school of DCIT at the University of Newcastle focusing on Indian cinema, which has generated a lot of interested. We hope we can carry this on in future.”

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