Childhood one of main themes at this year’s Bollywood film festival

Póster del festival de Cine de Bollywood

This Wednesday, the annual Bollywood festival of Indian film gets underway in Prague. Now in its 12th year, the festival offers a selection of classical as well as contemporary movies from India and Pakistan, along with a rich accompanying programme. The subtitle of this year’s event is “Children of Bollywood.” I spoke to Radim Špaček, one of the festival’s organizers, and first asked him about the choice of the main theme:

“We found out just by chance that the majority of this year’s films are somehow connected with children or childhood. We also have a nice visual which is drawn and looks very funny and a bit childish. And we also have an animated trailer. So we thought it was a sign and we chose Children of Bollywood as the title for this year.”

But despite the accent on childhood, we can also expect some serious themes?

“Of course, to be a child in India is usually not very happy or funny. Most of the films dealing with children or child trafficking are very serious matters, social dramas or very sensitive stories about what it is like to be growing up in India or even in Pakistan, since we have two Pakistani movies this year.”

What are the other highlights of the festival? Can you mention at least a few of them?

“Of course and I would like to promote some really funny films because I don’t want to make an impression that we are only screening sad films.

“We start with a 3D version of the most classical Indian movie Sholay, a kind of Indian western, but full of songs and dancing. The second highlight I would say is Dhoom 3, set in Chicago, which is very dynamic and full of explosion and chases.

“And the last invitation is to a movie called Taare Zameen Par, about a boy suffering from dyslexia who meets a very sensitive teacher who helps him to overcome the problem. The main character is played by Amir Khan, a very famous actor.”

The Czech and Indian cultures are obviously very different. Would you say that over the years Czechs have learned to appreciate and understand Indian cinema?

“I hope so. I think some of them are already experts, since we have a stable group of supporters. The problem is that Czech audiences especially are very conservative and they still expect these romantic movies with dances and beautiful actresses, full of music and happy endings. We try to explain to them that this fashion is over in India. We want to show them the real picture of contemporary Indian cinema.”

As far as I know you also have rich accompanying programme.

Radim Špaček,  photo: Alžběta Švarcová
“Because of the childhood theme, we will have a theatre for children inspired by the fairy tales Thousand and One Nights by Scheherazade. There will also be a “mela”, which means a fair with shops, two Indian restaurants and some workshops. And of course on Saturday night there is a big Bollywood party at the PM club so we will dance until morning.”

The festival of Bollywood films is running in Prague’s Světozor and Lucerna cinemas until October 26th.