The Melbourne woman who helped Indian cinema conquer Australia
Pathan starring Shah Rukh Khan is currently in Australian cinemas. Produced by Yash Raj Films and distributed locally by Mind Blowing Films, the feature film grossed US$13 million worldwide in its opening weekend, a record for a non-English language film without the clout of a Hollywood action budget. Interest from the diaspora drove local box office numbers soaring ($2.2 million in its opening weekend in Australia) and streaming giants continued showing films like the Oscar-nominated Telugu-language film RRRthe market for South Asian cinema has expanded beyond the diaspora and the continent.
“Western thinking is not necessarily the standard followed by the rest of the world. As the world gets smaller and audiences more global, diverse creative expression in cinema and the arts is important. Thanks to streaming platforms, people’s tastes are changing. Audiences are ready to watch subtitled films ranging from Hindi to Telugu, Tamil and Urdu,” says Bhowmick Lange.
Through Melbourne’s Indian Film Festival, she has brought to the country some of India’s biggest stars, including Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Malaika Arora Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Prabhu Deva, Fawad Khan and even Shah Rukh Khan himself. These high-profile connections cement her local and international influence and the attraction of the festival for mass tourism.
“South Asian creatives are such a big part of the world, but it won’t be reflected in local cinema until they’re producers, writers, directors, executives and boardroom presences. We are all a product of our worlds and until we expand that world there is a limit to what we will see on screen,” she continues.
The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is underpinned by the core values of diversity, equity and inclusion. After her daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Bhowmick Lange was motivated to return to her filmmaking roots to create stories that reflect our diverse society.
“Often we are only so inclusive within our comfort zones or what is comfortable for us. Screening is so important to bridge prejudice. You can’t be what you can’t see, and that’s what drove my work.”
This prompted her to found My Melbourne in 2019. The project will initially start as workshops and will see established Indian filmmakers mentoring local writers. The stories build on notions of race, gender, disability and sexuality and are inspired by the writers’ lived experiences with a diverse crew behind the camera. It will premiere at the 2024 Indian Film Festival in Melbourne.
“In a way, the audience dictates what’s done,” says Bhowmick Lange. “That element of everyone having the same emotional experience – without the audiences we’re making the films for?”
https://www.smh.com.au/culture/movies/the-melbourne-woman-who-helped-indian-cinema-conquer-australia-20230131-p5cgt5.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture The Melbourne woman who helped Indian cinema conquer Australia