Melbourne: The grand celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema kicked off here with the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne that will showcase over 60 films in the course of 20 days.
A programme of 15 Indian classics including `Pather Panchali`, `Sholay`, `Achut Kanya` and `Garam Hawa` will be screened in a bid to capture the glorious journey of Indian cinema.
The festival began today with a special tribute to Yash Chopra and a retrospective on Amitabh Bachchan.
A special initiative of Victorian government along with Mind Blowing Films company, IFFM is expected to boost the bilateral ties between the two countries.
Louise Asher, State minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business, festival ambassador Vidya Balan and celebrities like Simi Garewal, Farah Khan, Prabhudeva, Girish Kumar and Kabir Khan marked the opening of the festival today.
Asher said delivering an Indian film festival in Melbourne was a key part of the coalition government`s commitment to closer engagement between India and Victoria.
"The festival kicks off tonight with a screening of the silent film `Raja Harishchandra`, which marks 100 years to the day since its first screening and the birth of Indian cinema.
"Last night, I had the honour of presenting an award to Pamela Chopra on behalf of late Yash Chopra, for his contribution to world cinema. In honouring Yash Chopra, the festival will feature a retrospective of his work and some of his most beloved classics including screening his final film `Jab Tak Hai Jaan`," Asher added.
As an effort to further boost India links, the La Trobe University has also announced naming its Agora cinema as `The Yash Chopra cinema` for a year.
The university is also all set to honour Bachchan with first of its kind La Trobe Global citizenship award for his exceptional contribution towards cinema and roll out `Shri Amitabh Bachchan scholarship award` for Indian students during the festival.
The IFFM 2013 is also going to feature four masterclasses run by visiting Bollywood stars.
An examination of the evolution of women`s role in Indian cinema will be run by Simi Garewal; `Fact to Fiction From Documentaries to Blockbusters` will see Kabir Khan delibrate on his experiences in the industry.
`Hurrah Bollywood!` will feature the last year`s highlights in mainstream Hindi cinema, including romantic comedy Barfi! and Rs 100 crore box office thriller `Ek Tha Tiger`.
Films in regional languages including Gujarati and Punjabi will also form a part of this festival apart from world premiere of Mira Nair`s `The Reluctant Fundamentalist.`
A special edition of the festival has been the screening and announcement of winners and finalists of the Western Union short film competition, which has three winners from India, New Zealand and Australia.
The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne runs till May 22.