South Indian superstar Kushboo has spoken out strongly against the much celebrated Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, accusing it of discriminating against the non-Bollywood films from India. Though it says 'Indian', "the festival is only about Hindi films," Kushboo says in an exclusive interview with SBS Malayalam.
The actor-turned-politician, who is an honorary ambassador of the Richmond Tigers FC is in Melbourne to promote AFL in India.
Speaking to SBS Malayalam during this visit, Kushboo slammed the IFFM for failing to give importance to South Indian films.
"This discrimination is injustice so we need to put an end to it,” she says.
The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne claims as the "southern hemisphere's greatest celebration of Indian cinema". However Kushboo questioned that claim.
To non-Indians, the phrase ‘Bollywood’ has become synonymous with the entire Indian film industry, but of course, the Mumbai-based industry just represents Hindi language films.
While Hindi is the most widely spoken Indian language in the country, there are in fact many more – each represented by their own thriving in-language film industry – including: Bangla, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati and of course Malayalam.
“It's not only about Bollywood movies," says Kushboo. "Where are the Malayalam actors who have come here, who have been invited, who have been on the same platform or honored here?"
We have the greatest actors [in Malayalam] like Mammootty and Monhanlal - have they ever been invited?"
"Yes, we have such great technicians from Malayalam cinema. Why can't they be the global ambassadors when you say Indian film festival?"
Listen to Kushboo's words (in English) with SBS Malayalam below:
Kushboo said that she had taken it up with the organisers of the festival and the political leadership.
“I met a lot of parliamentarians, both Liberal and Labor parties, and we have been taking it forward,”
She was expecting a change from next year onwards.
Kushboo is probably the only actress in India in whose name there is a temple in Tamil Nadu - her fans have made her a deity. So her words could yet have some impact!
IFFM rejects allegations
However, IFFM director Mittu Bhowmick Lange rejected the allegations of Kushboo in an interview to SBS Malayalam. She explained that the organisers have invited many South Indian actors to the festival and gave equal importance to non-Hindi films too.
Indian Film Festival of Melbourne which began on the 11th of this month will conclude on the 20th. Well-known Bollywood figures were its main attractions this year too. Aiswarya Rai Bachchan, Karan Johar, Malaika Arora, Konkona Sen Sharma, Raveena Tandon, Rahul Bose were some of them.