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Indian Film Festival Melbourne 2017: Celebrating diversity and independence

Samantha Chew

Fri Jul 21 2017

Lipstickundermy burkha

Back again for another year of great Indian films, the Indian Film Festival Melbourne (IFFM) returns with a variety of movies to suit everyone’s tastes. The theme this year is ‘Diversity’, which has been clearly demonstrated in its lineup of extensive Indian cinema.

Opening on August 10, the festival will coincide with India’s Independence Day. Featuring 60 films in 20 different languages, the festival aims to explore the richness of contemporary cinema from India. Special performances by Kakar Sisters and a Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition will also take place during the festival.

With such an impressive lineup, it may be hard to choose which movies to watch so here are some highlights to help you out!

Lipstick Under My Burkha

Headlining movie Lipstick Under My Burkha is certainly inspired by this year’s theme of ‘diversity’. The highly acclaimed film explores cultural and personal struggles of Indian women from diverse backgrounds.

Pushing the boundaries of Indian societal expectations, the film follows women from different places who are of different ages. Here, lipstick is used as a symbol of coming-of-age and sexual awakening that the girls experience.  

Humorous yet also hard hitting, this movie functions as social commentary about women who at war with social and cultural expectations.


Other program highlights include the documentary Tramjatra, a story of an ex-tram conductor’s fight to save the trams and the journey that brought him to Kolkata, produced by Mahadeb Shi.

This poignant tale of Roberto D’Andrea, a Melbournian who followed his romantic love and love for trams to India, charts his his fight to keep trams alive and will definitely endear itself to Melbourne’s tram-dwellers.

Hotel Salvation

For viewers with a penchant for good wholesome comedy, this one is for you. Shubhashish Bhutani’s Hotel Salvation is a tale of an extraordinary father and son relationship explored through traditional Hindi philosophy.

The film uses humour to discuss life and on the flipside, the journey of death as well. Following a traditional father who dreams of his death and a modern son who has forgotten to put his family above work and money. Much of the film’s focal points are between duty and belief, and of course the complexity of human growth.

This feature won its director an award for peace and human rights and should definitely not be missed for those looking for humour and great storytelling.


Closing the festival this year is the film Shab. Set in Delhi, this film is an exploration of four protagonists and their struggles.

Romantic and tragic, the film is true to the meaning of its name, Shab — which means ‘Night’. Dark tales of betrayal and redemption are spun together, in a beautiful portrayal of human relationships.

Shab is raw and tenuous and should not be missed.

Elsewhere at the festival

Additionally, celebrating the best of Bollywood in the past 12 months is the ‘Hurrah Bollywood’ program that will feature films such as Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Dear Zindagi.

Don’t miss out on the chance to not only watch the best of Indian cinema but also meet those in the industry. For more information, check out their website for the program and more information.