Bollywood Film Festival Celebrates Diwali in Australia

By Jane Wilkins and Indranil Halder

We had the pleasure of attending the opening of the inaugural Bollywood Film Festival, a collaborative effort by Val Morgan, Dendy Cinemas, and HSBC Bank on 2nd of November. Their advertisements invite audiences to experience the enchanting world of India through the lens of cinema. The grand Opening Night gala unfolded at Dendy Cinema Newtown in Sydney, where the decor, adorned with yellow garlands and colour brochures, truly set the tone for a celebration of Indian culture.

The Dendy staffs did tirelessly putting the finishing touches for the gala, complete with a red carpet, offerings from the Sydney Beer Co., and vibrant popcorn. To add to the excitement, cricket legend and Bollywood star Brett Lee graced the event with his presence, emphasizing the festival’s role in fostering a robust Indo-Australian relationship which is shaping up shoulder to shoulder in the recent time.

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We had the privilege of conversing with Nicole Townsend from Val Morgan, who graciously explained the extraordinary collaboration between Val Morgan, Dendy Cinemas, and HSBC Bank that brought the Bollywood Film Festival to life. This unique partnership marks the first of its kind, dedicated to celebrating Diwali and it holds great promise for strengthening cultural ties between India and Australia. HSBC representatives Lindawati and Shailajaa extended a warm welcome to all attendees . HSBC log engraved candles or dias were our favourite to celebrate Diwali.

Coincidentally, my husband Indranil had just returned from London, where Diwali festivities were in full swing including at Trafalgar Square. Notably, The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), and Her Excellency Mrs. Linda Hurley recently hosted a morning tea at Government House in Canberra to commemorate Diwali in Australia. The growing embrace of Diwali in Australian culture is evident, and the selection of movies for the Bollywood Film Festival reflects this cultural integration.

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The festival runs until November 5, 2023, encompassing cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Gold Coast, Canberra, Adelaide, and Brisbane. I am confident that this event will foster a deeper appreciation for Bollywood films, their artistic content, and the celebrations of life in the Indian subcontinent. The festival’s timing aligns beautifully with Diwali celebrations across Australia, infusing vibrant colors into the festivities.

The opening night featured the film “Kennedy,” directed by Anurag Kashyap and starring Bollywood actors Rahul Bhat, Sunny Leone, Mohit Takalkar, Abhilash Thapliyal, and Megha Burman. The film delves into the life of an Indian subcontinent driver who also serves as an expert assassin, blackmailer, and extortionist.

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Other films showcased include “Dug Dug,” “To Kill a Tiger,” and “Joram,” which serves as the closing night movie for the festival. Director Devasish Makhija remarked, “Joram echoes the ancient wisdom of the indigenous people… When the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you. It is you who belong to the land.”

Notably, Bengali, Tamil, and Gujarati films were absent from the Bollywood Film Festival’s lineup. It would be wonderful to see a broader array of high-quality movies from diverse Indian regions made available to the Australian public in future editions of the festival.

We wish everyone Happy Diwali!