THE Indian Film Festival opened at Hoyts Melbourne Central last Friday, with eager fans rushing to take photos with their favourite stars like Malaika Arora Khan. Even Matt Preston was there. Meld’s roving reporter Joyce Ho brings you a piece of the red carpet action.
IT WASN’T quite the Friday night movie crowd you were expecting at Hoyts cinema in Melbourne Central.
Flashing cameras, famous people, women decked out in beautiful saris – it was all a little bit special.
Curious passersby stuck around to find out what the commotion was all about, while the gutsy ones enquired, wanting to catch some of the infectious excitement hanging in the air.
“It’s the Indian Film Festival,” a Hoyts staff responded politely.
“Tonight’s the opening night, and we’ll be featuring Bollywood films for the next two weeks.”
International students from India, migrant families and interested locals loitered around the movie hall in eager anticipation for the doors to open.
Among the early birds were an Indian mother and daughter duo from Essendon.
“In India, these things hardly start on time but I don’t think that’s going to happen here” the excited mother remarked.
“I hope they have subtitles,” her daughter chimed.
The high school student had lived in Melbourne all her life but still thoroughly enjoyed Bollywood films.
One of the two films featured on the opening night, Dabangg, was the highest grossing film in India last year. Its main theme song became one of the biggest hits in India of 2010.
The show’s popularity was evident before the screening began.
Fans were so much in awe of the chance to meet (and take photos with) the celebrity guest panels – Malaika Arora Khan and Arbaaz Kahn – that they mostly forgot the point of it all was to engage in lively discussion at the question and answer forum.
Even as the lights dimmed, fans were still rushing up the front with their cameras wanting to take pictures with their favourite stars.
Dabang was particularly special for the Kahns as it featured Arbaaz’s Kahn’s brother Salman Kahn as the lead character. It was also the first movie Malaika Khan has produced.
The story of Dabang, or “fearless”, follows the protagonist Chulbul Pandey (Salman Kahn) who tries to grapple with his sense of inferiority to his stepbrother Makhanchan Pandey (Arbaaz Kahn) and stepfather as a child.
Fast forward time, the film then follows the now grown-up Chulbul, as he joins the police force as a leading badass cop, and is forced to confronted his personal demons despite his best efforts to lose himself in his work.
The film was nothing short of what people all around the world have come to expect of Bollywood. The melodrama, infectious dance numbers and over-the-top action-packed scenes kept the crowds highly entertained and at the edge of their seats.
The Indian Film Festival takes places from now till March 20. There will be free screenings at Federation Square starting 9.30pm on March 12, 16, 17 and 18. All other screenings will take place at Hoyts Melbourne Central. For full program details, visit the Indian Film Festival website.