In an effort to strengthen cultural and economic ties between India and Australia, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday announced plans to establish a $3 million Indian Cinema Attraction Fund, which will enable more Indian filmmakers to explore Victoria as a shooting location. Andrews, who shared the dais with Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji as she hoisted the Indian national flag at the Federation Square here, said that beyond a cultural celebration, it will be a “profound economic opportunity and a way in which India and Australia could come even closer together”.
“I am proud to announce that the Victorian government will establish an Indian Cinema Attraction Fund with $3 million in funding to make sure at least four films are made right here in Melbourne and Victoria over the next four years,” Andrews said, urging Indian filmmakers to seize the opportunity.
Film Victoria has already been working closely with India’s biggest production studios, and offering grants worth up to 25 per cent of their spends in Victoria. The new investment, announced during an event organised by the ongoing Victoria government-backed Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), is expected to grow the local film industry and create local jobs for the state, which has Australia’s biggest Indian community.
Victoria has earlier played host to a number of Indian film productions, including “Chak De! India, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” and “Salaam Namaste”. Rani, dressed in a chiffon sari in the biting cold — “in true tradition of a Bollywood heroine” — for the flag hoisting ceremony, sang a few tweaked lines from one of her songs in praise of the Premier’s incentive move.
She was emotional as she recounted her father’s patriotic themes as she hoisted the flag.
“When we are in India on August 15, the tradition is that in every nook and corner, in buildings and societies, we have the flag hoisting and ever since I was a baby, I would wake up from sleep, I would hear all the patriotic songs playing. And one of them was from my father’s films, which he did in the 1960s with Mr Sunil Dutt.” She recited a few lines from the song “Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani, naye daur mein likhenge milkar nayi kahaani… Hum Hindustani, Hum Hindustani.”
“I miss my dad, especially on days like this because he made films like ‘Leader’ and ‘Hum Hindustani’ which had so much of the patriotic spirit. I hope it carries on with new generations,” Rani said.
The Federation Square, despite the rain and chill in the wind, attracted a huge crowd of Indians and non-Indians to celebrate the colour, dance, music and spirit that India is known for the world over. As inclusion is the theme of IFFM this year, the performances saw old, young and specially challenged participants putting up a heart-warming show.
A burst of tricoloured confetti as Rani hoisted the flag added to the patriotic vibes, which was backed by dhol, dances, music and food.