Bollywood Downunder: India's Vibrant Film Industry Is Coming to Australia. (Behind the Scenes)

By Karena, Cynthia | Metro Magazine, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Bollywood Downunder: India's Vibrant Film Industry Is Coming to Australia. (Behind the Scenes)


Karena, Cynthia, Metro Magazine


INDIA'S FILM INDUSTRY IS COLOSSAL. It is the world's biggest producer and consumer of films, producing 1000 movies every year, in twenty-five different languages, with about fifteen million people going to the cinema every day. And now Indian film-makers want to come and shoot in Australia.

Sydney based film-maker, Anupam Sharma, has been independently promoting film links between India and Australia through private co-productions. His company--films and casting TEMPLE--organizes the Australian shoots for Indian films, TV commercials and music videos. He says the interest in Australia started about five years ago. 'Feroz Khan, a well respected director within the Indian film industry since the sixties, scripted Australia into a film in 1998. This exposed the Indian film industry to Australian locations.'

More than eighty Indian films have been shot in Australia since then, using scenery such as the Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Island, the Flinders Ranges, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the twelve Apostles and the Jenolan caves. Feroz Khan has just recently finished shooting Janasheen (translated as Close to the Heart) in Bacchus Marsh in Victoria, and in Sydney.

Bollywood is a general term used to describe the Indian film industry. It's a mix of the two words Hollywood and Bombay (now Mumbai). There are film industries in other parts of India, but this is by far the biggest.

Bollywood films have a reputation for being kitsch, over the top, and lengthy--they usually run for three hours. Anupam describes them as:

Unique, colorful and boisterous. They usually have two brothers, a ravishing vamp, a widowed mother, a comical villain, lots of dancing, and good wins over evil in the end. Also known as Masala Movies, like the Indian spice, they have a bit of everything in them: comedy, song, dance, drama, fighting, and exotic locations.

The average Indian wants to be entertained. They usually don't have enough money to travel overseas, so this is their chance to see something of the world for about fifty cents a film. So the song and dance sequences shot in exotic locations are an important part of any Indian film. Anupam says that film-makers are hungry for new and fascinating scenery.

Australia is considered virgin location, new and foreign. The Indian film industry has realized that Australia is lots of things--not just the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, the Opera House.

In Australia you can get all types of locations, and shoot twelve months a year. The diversity of the locations is complemented by Australia being an economical place to shoot, not cheap, but economical. And the Australian crews have a reputation for being friendly and flexible.

He stresses that Australia has the potential to be the film capital of the world if we can successfully target the Indian film industry.

Jane Smith, the Chief Executive of the NSW Film and Television Office, was part of a recent delegation to Mumbai to do just that, and to take advantage of the growing trend of projects from India to Australia.

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