Beyond Bollywood

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, June 29, 2010
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While for many the idea of Indian cinema conjures up the colorful costumes and dance numbers of Bollywood, an Indian film festival launched Friday in Beijing hopes to reveal the diversity of Indian cinema by selecting multi-language films, produced in several different regions of India.

"Indian films have long been popular in China. I've been reminded time and again by some of our Chinese friends of our more successful films here, such as Avara and Caravan," says S. Jaishankar, the Indian ambassador to China. "The visible attraction of Bollywood songs and dances, as well as our previous soap operas, indicate that there is a market waiting to be tapped."

"What people don't realize is that the films come from all over, from Bengali in the east to Maharashtra in the west, as well as some South Indian movies," Jaishankar says. "We want to give Chinese audiences a representative idea of Indian movies and not just Bollywood films."

Although the Hindi-language film industry, based in Mumbai, is the largest film producer in India and one of the most prolific film centers in the world, producing more than 800 films a year, there are several other major industries within Indian cinema, like the Telugu-language industry, more commonly known as "Tollywood," Bengali and Marathi cinema.

The festival includes notable films, such as Paresh Mokashi's Harishchandrachi Factory, which relates the making of India's first feature-length film and was selected as India's entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Dibakar Banerjee's Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, which was the winner of India's National Film Award and follows a charismatic thief through his adventures.

The festival kicked off at Beijing's Broadway Cinematheque MOMA with an opening ceremony that gave audiences a brief glimpse into India's dynamic culture and cinema. The night began with an energetic performance of classical and modern Indian dance and concluded with a screening of the award-winning Bengali film, Antaheen (The Endless Wait), which tells the story of two lonely souls who seek intimacy through online chatting.

The month-long film series is part of the Festival of India in China, which celebrates cultural exchange between the two countries and marks their 60 years of diplomatic relations.

It features 10 Indian mainstream and regional movies, and the films will be shown with Chinese subtitles. The debut of the Indian movie festival follows the launch of its Chinese counterpart - the Chinese Film Festival - in New Delhi last month.

The festival will leave Beijing on July 3 for Chongqing from July 5-14 and conclude in Guangzhou from July 17-23.

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