Indian Film Festival kicks off in Kazakhstan with fanfare

Astana: "Taare Zameen Par", "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" and "Baghban" are among the Bollywood movies that will be screened during a week-long Indian Film Festival that is underway in this Kazakhstan capital.

"The festival will revive the appeal of Indian films amongst the Kazakh people and contribute to further expanding and diversifying relations between the two countries," an Indian embassy statement said.

In fact, so large were the crowds at the festival inaugural Monday at the reputed Kino Park Cinema Hall here that a neighbouring cinema theatre had to be opened to accommodate them.

Speaking at the inauguration, Indian Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar referred to the huge popularity of Indian, or more appropriately Bollywood, films amongst the Kazakh population, noting: "If Raj Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty were the icons and legends of Indian films loved by the people of Kazakhstan from the 1950s to the 1980s, in current times the number of icons has grown much larger and ranges from Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan to Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor."

Sajjanhar stated that "even now, the senior generation in Kazakhstan fondly remembers the films and actors of the 1950s and 1960s as well as lyrics of some of the more well-known films like "Awara" and "Shri 420."

Even Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, during his visit to India in January 2009 "had enthusiastically narrated his fondness for Indian films and songs", the ambassador said, adding, "the youth of Kazakhstan today keenly enjoy watching Indian films, dances and songs."

Noting that the underlying theme of most Hindi films is love, Sajjanhar said "most Hindi films have a happy ending. Good always prevails over evil".

"In addition, Bollywood films also have action, drama, songs, dances and soul-stirring music. Several contemporary films, however, also deal with sensitive and important issues like terrorism, communal harmony and other challenges facing society," the ambassador added.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman of the Committee on Culture Iliyas Kozybaev referred to the strong, dynamic and rapidly expanding bilateral relations between India and Kazakhstan.

He thanked the Indian Embassy for organising the festival and said that it would go a long way in further strengthening, understanding and expanding people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

A large crowd, including the ambassadors of Germany, France, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the UN, Latvia and Palestine, diplomatic representatives from the US, Finland and Korea and officials of several public and private sector organisations, senior government personnel, students, and lovers of Indian art and culture attended the inauguration.



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