Melbourne, Aug 10 (IANS) Rajkumar Hirani, Tabrez Noorani, Rani Mukerji, Freida Pinto, Vicky Kaushal, Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal on Friday gathered to spread the magic of cinema in Australia as part of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) — the biggest celebration of Indian movies in Down Under.
On a windy and sunny Friday, the celebrities addressed the opening press conference of the movie jamboree, to be held here till August 22.
Rani, looking simple and elegant in a floral suit, said it was an honour for her to be a guest of honour at the event, where 60 films across 20 languages will be screened.
“On behalf of the Indian film fraternity, I would like to thank the Victorian government for supporting the Indian industry as it is so diverse with so many languages and styles, and it is all put under one roof.
“It’s a matter of great pride for our country to showcase our films here and reach out to people,” Rani, whose film “Hichki” will be screened at the gala, said here.
Australia’s Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley lauded the IFFM and its Festival Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange for organising the country’s biggest Indian film festival in its creative capital Victoria.
In its ninth edition currently, the gala has been strongly supported by Film Victoria, the government body which offers film commission services to productions interested in filming here.
“We are looking at increasing the opportunities and strengthening the connections that we (Australia and India) have with each other. And that’s what IFFM does,” Foley said.
The opening night film is Tabrez Noorani’s “Love Sonia” on sex trafficking. Freida and Richa, along with the film’s lead actress Mrunal Thakur, said they were looking forward to showcase a film about the lesser known side of the harsh reality.
Hirani, who is here with writer Abhijat Joshi and actor Vicky Kaushal to show his latest movie “Sanju” to the Australian audience, said the “lovely people” of Melbourne add to its vibe as a city.
“We come here and start feeling like kids,” quipped Hirani, and added: “I think it’s a fantastic place. We have considered shooting here as a lot of Indian films have been shot here. I actually do very few films but I would want to come and shoot in Australia.”
Apart from film screenings, the inclusion-themed IFFM will host a flag hoisting ceremony on Saturday ahead of Independence Day. Rani will hoist the flag at the Federation Square.
There will also be a dance competition, as well as panel discussions ranging on different subjects concerning the film industry, leading up to the awards night on Sunday.
(Radhika Bhirani is in Melbourne on the invitation of IFFM organisers. She can be contacted at [email protected])