The biggest Indian film festival outside of the Indian soil, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne kickstarted with much fanfare amidst a grand opening ceremony. The who’s who of Bollywood, including Richa Chadda, Fawad Khan, Shalmali Kholgade, Leena Yadav, Radhika Apte, Shakun Bhatra and others, were present in full abundance.

Themed around ‘women empowerment’, this year’s festival featured Leena Yadav’s Parched as the opening night film. The lead actress of the film, Radhika Apte was present on the red carpet amongst other guests.

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Director Leena Yadav and actor Radhika Apte

The festival’s Chief Guest Rishi Kapoor spoke delightfully about Indian cinema at the opening night. The veteran actor stated “I hope that this tradition continues, we come here and entertain you. I must also thank Fawad who is a leading and very dashing actor from Pakistan. I am very happy that he has been part of this contingent that only translates one thing, that our cinema speaks one language, we have one vision, we have only one secular language and that is only Cinema. We have worked together and the film which we were part of was directed by Shakun Batra. Thank you once again and I hope we have a great festival”.

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Fawad Khan

The day began with an official press conference with Leena Yadav and Richa Chadha who spoke extensively to the Australian press about Indian cinema. The opening film Parched received a thunderous response from a packed theatre.

The festival that began on August 11 will end on August 20 and will have some of the best films from the Indian sub continent being screening and premiered at the festival. The festival also has an array of other interesting events including special masterclasses by influential cinematic personalities and a Bollywood dance competition amongst others.