You’ve had a long career in the field of Indian Film and TV, which you have carried with you to Australia. Tell us about what inspired the beginning of an Indian Film Festival in this part of the world?
Mitu: Being a film and distribution company that specialises in Bollywood cinema (Mind Blowing Films) we saw a lot of love and interest for our films not only from within the community but also from others. Secondly its not always possible to release all the great films that are made in India, which is why we thought it would be great to hand pick the best of hindi / mainstream bollywood films and a few select amazing regional films and present them in a festival. Since we wanted the festival to be more than just film screenings and be a true city and community event we worked out the Western Union Short film competition , which gives young upcoming film makers a chance to showcase their works – along with free screenings and community events like dance competitions etc. The festival is very lucky to have some amazing guests who have made time and come down for it which has made it even more special.
How would you describe the reception of the first Indian Film Festival by cinema goers?
Mitu: It was very rewarding to see people from all walks of lives and cultures come to our film festival. Not only Indians but everyone from the subcontinent and Australians interested in Indian cultures loved it as well. We had a lot of free events like the fun Bollywood Dance Competition and free screenings at Federation Square which were very popular.
IFF 2010 guest Rani Mukherji with dancers!
This is the second year of the Indian Film Festival ANZ, what changes and differences can film goers expect compared to the first year?
Mitu: This year we have an even bigger line up - over 30 films including 15 Australian premieres. Some real gems from the Tamil Aranya Kandam, which has not released in India as yet; to English films like West is West and Just Another Love Story to the stunning ‘ I am ‘ to our regular beloved block busters like Dabangg and Robot!
The very popular Bollywood Dance Competition is back and will be judged by Malaika Arora Khan. We’re attempting to create a Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest Bollywood Dance Class’. And of course a bigger line up of our wonderful festival guests like Vidya Balan ,Arbaaz Khan, Malaika Arora , Ali Zafar , Juhi Chawla , Kabir Khan , Onir , Leslee Udiwn and Rajkumar Gupta promises to create a bigger and better experience this year!
Festival Film Just Another Love Story
What do you hope to achieve through the festival this year?
Mitu: We want to showcase the best of Indian cinema for all our film lovers, create a unique platform to screen films from upcoming film makers through the Western Union Short film competition and give cinema lovers an amazing experience interacting with their favourite film stars and film makers.
There’s no doubt celebrities are a large part of Indian cinema and command an audience like no other. In what way do you think the presence of actors and directors add value from a festival perspective, and to the Australian film industry over all?
Mitu: It all adds to the complete joyful cinematic experience to have your favourite film makers and stars discuss their films with you. Our directors come and see Australia and maybe want to come back and film here – their interactions with others from the Australian film industry nurtures a growing understanding and desire to work together more. Also our short film competition is another way where the winners get an opportunity to interact with the Indian film industry.
IFF 2010 Festival guests enjoying a dance with Lord Mayor & Premiere
What influences your choice of films to play at the festival?
Mitu: The films are selected by our curators and us and then approved by our advisory board, so there is a lot of input from everyone. We look at films which have their own unique stories, styles and narratives that set them apart.
Where do you see the festival and yourself, 5 years and 10 years down the line?
Mitu: I see the festival as a major Australian/ subcontinent event and me with a lot of grey hair :)