Bollywood strengthening Indian/Australian cultural ties

Two nations united by a shared love of cricket and curry – that’s how the special relationship between Australia and India is often described, and while that’s true as far as it goes, the reality runs much deeper. 

More than three percent of Australians declared themselves to be of Indian heritage at the last ABS census, and that is a figure that is steadily rising. Little wonder, then, that cultural ties extend beyond food and sport. One area of note is the antipodean fascination with Bollywood movies. Not only are more Aussie cinemas than ever devoting screen time to Bollywood. The land down under has also been a popular filming location for some of the latest Bollywood hit movies. 

Bollywood’s biggest festival outside India

In 2014, Melbourne hosted Australia’s first Indian Film Festival. It is now an annual event, and one that gets bigger with every passing year. This year’s event takes place between 11 and 20 August and is set to feature more than 120 Indian movies in 29 languages. 

Showing the best of Bollywood to an appreciative audience is only the beginning, however. Australia is becoming ever more closely involved in the actual production of many of these movies. 

Gambling movies strike a chord

With a couple of notable exceptions, such as Amarjeet’s 1971 classic Gambler, Bollywood has steered clear of the casino theme that is so popular in Western movies. However, that has started to change since Bollywood has broadened its horizons and taken to filming overseas. Australia is, after all, one of the gambling capitals of the world and more is spent on legit real money pokies in Australia than in any other country. Little surprise, then that casino and gambling-themed movies strike a chord here.

Perhaps the most famous one in recent years is Teen Patti. Directed by Leena Yadav and starring none other than Gandhi himself, Ben Kingsley, it might not be directly about the famous Australian pokies, but it is based on a casino card game that has its origins in India and is a feature of most modern Australian casinos, both online and in the nation’s cities.

Boosting Australian tourism

The cooperation between Australia and Bollywood is one that is mutually beneficial. Chak De! and Salaam Namaste were both filmed in and around Melbourne. Subsequent to their release, Victoria saw an 18 percent increase in the number of Indian tourists. 

This prompted more formal arrangements by which Australian State tourism organisations provide funding for Indian productions and also employ Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors to promote Australian tourism in India. 

Friends of Australia is a prime example, and includes stars like Parineeti Chopra. As well as promoting tourism, she has also worked on projects related to animal conservation and raising awareness about Australian bushfires.  

Two way traffic for budding filmmakers 

It is worth remembering that Australia has a significant movie industry of its own. It might not be on the same scale as Bollywood, but it is in the global top ten in terms of revenue. Holy

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