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Bollywood holds Hunter in thrall

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Film festival and symposium enjoyed and appreciated by Newcastle community

By Rekha Rajvanshi and Dr Vikrant Kishore

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‘Bollywood 101 Film Festival’ and the ‘Creative and Cultural Dimensions of Bollywood’ symposium organised by the School of Design, Communication and IT, University of Newcastle, was held from May 8-9 at the Tower Cinema and TV Studio on the University’s premises. Dr Vikrant Kishore, Dr Susan Kerrigan and Dr Amit Sarwal were conveners, while Abbas Zaheer coordinated the joint event.
“The 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, leading to a second edition in 2015. Participation from the academia, community and media has been great,” stated Dr Kishore.
Following the growing popularity of Bollywood cinema and events in the Hunter region over the last few years, the objective of the festival and symposium is to bring entertainment and meaningful cinema to the community, while also providing an opportunity watch films, participate in discussions and enjoy the ensuing Bollywood party. The atmosphere was festive and the curated films featured Indian national award winning films and documentaries.
The symposium was inaugurated by Dr Anne Llewellyn, Head of the School of Design, Communication and IT; while Dr Phillip McIntyre delivered the keynote address themed ‘Creativity in Bollywood’. Renowned speakers such as Madhvi Mohindra; Simon Wilmot – Head of Discipline, Creative Arts, Deakin University; Navneet Anand, Fiji Times; freelance writer Rekha Rajvanshi; Swechcha Kulshreshtha, Hindi Gaurav; Anu Chhabra; and Jaz Shabir spoke about the various aspects of Bollywood. Following the lunch session, Promila Gupta, Aishverya Singh, Ragini Shonak, Deepak Shah and Himanshu Goel shared their experiences of Bollywood in Newcastle. The panel discussion chaired by Dr Kerrigan hosted speakers Amit Sarwal, Parichay Patra and Abbas Zaheer.

Bollywood holds Hunter in thrall
Mr Sunjay Sudhir, Consul General for India in Sydney was the valedictory speaker at the symposium and he praised the efforts by the organisers to bring Indian cinema to Newcastle. He was also impressed with the theme that focussed on the creative and cultural dimensions of Bollywood. “In today’s context, Bollywood does not just representing Hindi cinema; and when we discuss Bollywood we should include other dominant regional cinema as well, which the symposium presented very well,” he stated. Three featured films were highly appreciated – ‘The Untold’, a short 16 minute fiction film directed by Vasu Vangala; ‘Dancing to the Tunes of Bollywood II’, a 30-minute documentary by Vikrant Kishore, which incited discussion on Bollywood song-dance sequences are having a considerable influence on traditional folk dance forms of India in form and content; and national award winning film ‘Queen’, starring Kangana Raunat. Two award winning Indian documentaries – ‘The Rat Race’ and ‘Shapath’ (Promise), and a Bollywood blockbuster ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ (This Youth is Crazy) were also screened.
Various dance groups featuring local talent such as Chakras Group and the Bam Bam Sistaz performed, including solo artiste Dheeraja. Dance performances from the ever energetic bhangra to the classic grace of the Bharatnatyam, and folk rhythm from the dandiya raas, showcased the breadth of talent and kept the audience entertained.
Two academic books, the first titled ‘Bollywood and Its Others – Towards New Configurations’ by Vikrant Kishore, Amit Sarwal and Parichay Patra; and ‘From Real to Reel – Folk Dances of India in Bollywood Cinema’ by Vikrant Kishore, were released by Mr Sudhir.
The University of Newcastle is the first of its kind in Australia to includ Bollywood as one of the research units, and for the Music Video and Foundations of the media production course, students work on some aspects of Bollywood song and dance. Dr Kerrigan advised that the
symposium discuss key issues in Bollywood, and hopes that the trend of Indian cinema continues to generate interest in the future

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