Yes! Newcastle goes Bollywood this week


Vikrant Kishore Picsmall

Dr Vikrant Kishore – bringing Bollywood to Newcastle

by Neena Badhwar

Yes Bollywood has arrived in Newcastle as the city gets ready for a packed event: ‘Bollywood 101 Film Festival’ this Thursday and Friday February 20-21, 2014.

And why do you call it ”˜101’ ”“ a strange name, explains, the organizer, Vikrant Kishore, “101 because Bollywood now turns 101 years old and then all the introductory courses in any modality start with ”˜101’ and I thought that this is our introduction to Bollywood to the community in Newcastle.”

Vikrant Kishore teaches at Newcastle university at its Media Production & Communication   and is pretty excited about the response not only just from the Indian community, but, says he, “There’s an overwhelming interest from Aussies who want to come and see Bollywood films and I tell you I do not have a seat left as all the 380 seats have been booked 10 days in advance.”

A Ph.D. from RMIT in ”˜Folk dance form and its impact on popular culture such as Bollywood’ Dr. Vikrant who has recently become the father of a 15-day old baby girl, named Pariza, which he says it means ”˜Pari Jaisi’, is busy as anything in the day as well as night, as he takes us all in the world of fairies or shall we say Bollywood. Supported by the Indian Association of Newcastle, Screen Hunter Central Coast, the festival also will hold a daylong conference on February 21.

“The response to the conference from academics, film makers within Australia and also worldwide has been tremendous with over fifty people applying to present papers and we have on this day about 25 experts confirmed who are presenting on various aspects of Bollywood.”

“On Thursday at 6.30 pm the festival kicks off with inauguration ceremony and the lighting of the diyas followed by a ten minute dance performance by Bollywood dancers of chakra dance Group from Newcastle itself.”

“Chief guests invited are Indian consul General Mr Arun Kumar Goel, our Vice Chancellor Prof. Caroline McMillen and local MP Mr Tim Owens. And after the ceremony we are screening four movies: Raj Suri’s ”˜I Am, Medha’, Anupam Sharma’s ”˜Indian Aussies: Terms & Conditions Applied’, Vikrant’s ”˜Dancing to the tunes’ and the Bollywood feature film ”˜Rajneeti’. Considering that Indian elections are on the way soon perhaps ”˜Rajneeti’ is the right choice for a film for the festival.

Day has a list of  prominent presenters that include: Mr Arun Kumar Goel (a career diplomat and presently Consul General of India in Sydney); Mr Anupam Sharma (a film maker, author, and one of the leading Australian international experts on Indian cinema); Mr John Winter (an Australian film and television writer, director and producer); Ms Kumud Merani (Australia Day Ambassador 2014 and an Executive Producer of Hindi Programs with SBS Radio); Mr Raj Suri (a Sydney based professional photographer, media producer and talent spotter); Mr Alex Singh (a Bollywood and Melbourne based filmmaker, theatre director, writer, actor and community worker); Ms Anita Barar (an accomplished writer, playwright, and poet in both Hindi & English); Mr Christopher Raja (a national award-winning writer); Mr Rohit Revo (Editor of online portal; Ms Savitri Naidoo (Founder and Artistic Director of Chakras Performing Arts Australia); Ms Shveata Chandel Singh (a Sydney based journalist); and Yask Desai (a filmmaker, photographer and writer). These practitioners from the media industry would be joined by senior and early career academicians from both Australia and India in presentations and panel discussions on finding find ways to work on combined film ventures between the two countries.

Says Vikrant, “Possible issues that the conference will look into but are not limited to: Alternative historiography; History beyond the nation-state paradigm; Bollywood’s representation of Indian other(s) i.e. religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous population, Kashmir and its people, people belonging to the North-Eastern Hill states; Bollywood as alter(normative), sexuality, queer issues, women in Bollywood, movie vamps, item numbers; Bollywood song, dance and music; Bollywood stars and their representations; Bollywood’s marginal genres, the horror film, the science fiction film; Bollywood vis-à-vis other industries, especially the South Indian industries and the linguistic identity politics; and Alternative/arthouse/avant-garde cinema in Hindi vis-à-vis Bollywood.”

Talking about how Bollywood has created such huge curiosity and how the people in the west like its song and dance aspect, says Vikrant, “Song and dance in Bollywood are an essential part of the narrative yet are also an escape from the narrative and are always enjoyed by the audience. Now we are getting an audience from wider world who are not just amused but actually appreciative and quite excited about it all.”

Vikrant says about the festival, “It’s a shorter version of Bollywood which we tried to pack in just one night screening four films and I hope that it becomes much bigger next year. I just wanted to say that Bollywood happens not only in Sydney or a Melbourne but it can in Newcastle as well where people are equally keen.”

TIDU wishes Vikrant all the best for promoting Bollywood in Newcastle!

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