Brand Bollywood Downunder

Brand Bollywood Downunder
Temple Production Company/ Bollywood Downunder Films Pty Ltd. In cinemas from November 2, 2023

I am certainly not a Bollywood novice, but I must confess to knowing little or nothing about the history of Bollywood in Australia, so Brand Bollywood Downunder was a revelation!

Anupam Sharma’s Brand Bollywood Downunder is a feature documentary about the ‘Bollywoodisation’ and globalisation of Indian cinema through its 89-year-old love affair with Australia.

Sharing his rationale for creating the documentary, Sharma says, "There is a need for a documentary for every aspect of Australia and Bollywood. There is a need for a global documentary on Bollywood or popular Indian cinema. There is a need for a documentary on Australia and India film links from trade, film, political and social points of views."

Image: Bollywood Superstar Akhsay Kumar shooting in Darling Harbour January 2007 for film Heyy Babyy produced by NGE India and Sajid Nadiadwala.

He goes on to say, “Everyone was apologising for Bollywood, sheepishly being embarrassed, and scared of ridicule. I hated that. Hindi popular cinema no matter what you call it Bollywood, mainstream, popular, is deeper in form and content and ‘seriously entertaining’ and needed to be celebrated. As Anupam Kher says in our film, 'We make 1.4 billion people happy. We don’t sell misery of life, we celebrate life'. Hence, the need for this documentary.”

Spanning from 1897 to 2023 Brand Bollywood Downunder is an educational, funny, whimsical, and entertaining look at Bollywoodisation and globalisation of popular Hindi Cinema featuring interviews with icons of Hindi cinema along with rare behind the scenes of Bollywood stars filming at picture postcard locations in Australia and the rest of the world.

The release is timed to match the most important Indian holiday of the year – Diwali and is shot across locations including Australia, India, France, UK, and Switzerland.

Brand Bollywood Downunder features some of the biggest Bollywood stars and production crews and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the major Bollywood films shot in Australia. It explores the successes and failures of bringing a quintessentially Indian film genre to audiences in Australia.

Sharma wrote the film with editor Karin Steininger and produced alongside Claire Haywood and Deepti Sachdeva, and executive producers Lisa Duff and Janine Barnes.

The film is a celebration of Bollywood cinema, its expansion throughout the world and creation of a new filmmaking genre. It explores the successes and failures of Bollywood's rise as a serious subculture in Australia, and around the globe. We look behind the camera and see the myths and legends that surround the industry and witness the Bollywood reality, incredibly different to western film making.

Image: The then NSW Tourism Minister at the Red Carpet Premier of Heyy Babyy at State Theatre Sydney 2007

I particularly enjoyed the section featuring Australian film makers who join the Indian crew. Spontaneity rules the day with little or no preplanning for the day’s location shoots, a noisy crew and a seeming surplus of support crew make for entertaining viewing.

Above all,  we are introduced to the ‘star system’ in Bollywood where stars are treated like Gods and are attended by 4 or 5 assistants who cater for their every need. Also fascinating is the need for an intermission in Indian films as food and drinks play a vital role in the enjoyment of Bollywood.

Most importantly, we are share in the joy of film making Indian style, its similarities and differences to the West and the joyful process of making films – Indian style!

Brand Bollywood Downunder is a highly entertaining and informative look at Indian film-making culture and how it has affected film making across the world. A must, whether you are a Bollywood newbie or dedicated follower!

Barry Hill OAM

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