Bollywood stardom throngs to Jeddah

How India starring in Red Sea International Film Festival

Jeddah: Bollywood has made its presence felt in ongoing Saudi Arabia’s prestigious International film festival, the Red Sea Film Festival, the second edition of which began in Jeddah on Friday with a host of mega stars including Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Kajol, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapur, Akshay Kumar and music director AR Rahman making dazzling appearances on the red carpet. Rihtik Roshan and Ranbir Kapur also scheduled to participate.

Its noteworthy to mention that Saudi culture minister Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan visited India and met Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar.

Having long enjoyed cordial diplomatic and commercial relations with India for decades, Saudi authorities now aim to build mutually beneficial ties with India’s highly successful Hindi film industry. Collaborations in cinema and entertainment are expected to play a crucial role in the promising new era of cross-sector cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India as part of their strategic partnership.

Under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 social and economic reform agenda, the government aims to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from 2.9 percent to 6 percent.

To achieve this, the Kingdom has been allocating resources generously to the domestic film industry, as well as opening scores of new cinemas, concert venues, sports arenas and leisure facilities across the country.

Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan has stressed the need to continue the work of the G20 cultural track during presidency of India.

Prince Badr met the Indian Minister of State for Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal on the sidelines of the G20 cultural ministers meeting held in Indonesia in the month of September.

The Indian minister commended the Kingdom’s efforts and role in convening the first meeting of Culture Ministers in 2020 at the G20.

The meeting discussed the strengthening of cultural cooperation between the two friendly countries in a number of cultural areas; most notably, film production, especially with State Film Education Institutes, major Indian companies, and work to develop and empower the culture sector in both countries according to reports.

The festival opened with ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?,’ a romantic comedy directed by Shekhar Kapur, Lahore born director of many hit movies including Mr. India.

The open screening of movies on shores of Red Sea is main feature of the festival, which was inaugurated with Bollywood’s iconic romantic blockbuster movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ).  Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge has become an iconic entertainment in Indian Cinema. The song, “Ghar aaja pardesi, tera desh bulayere” (O’ migrants, come back home; your home, your country is missing you), has finely captured the nuances of nostalgia that every NRI experiences and relates to.

The duo of Sharukh Khan and Kajol during a stage appearance recreated their iconic moments from the film DDLJ and that made their fans go crazy. The Saudi fans both men and women, are mesmerized by the song “Tujhe Dekha To” from the movie DDLJ.

Also, scores of Indians throng to Red Sea shores to listen to Jay Ho, hit song by A. R. Rahman.

The festival held in partnership with VOX cinemas and MBC Group – which will feature 131 films and short films from 61 countries in 41 languages, including both established and emerging talent – will run until December 10. Several new Saudi films will be shown alongside the best of new international cinema, featuring 25 new films from Saudi filmmakers.

In addition to showing movies, the festival includes conversations that will allow attendees to hear filmmakers and actors talk about their career. Gurinder Chadha, British film director of Indian origin, opened the programme In-conversation.

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar said that he is making a feature on the theme of sex education that he hopes to release next spring during an In-Conversation as part of the Film Festival on Saturday.

“It’s a very important subject. In a lot of places, it is not there. We have all kinds of subjects we learn in school and sex education is one topic I would like all the schools in the world to have. It’s going to take time to release, it’s going to be April, May,” he said, adding “It’s one of the best films I’ve ever made.”

Others in the line-up include Indian actors Ranbir Kapoor, Rihtik Roshan besides Hollywood actors Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia, Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki.

Commenting on the festival, CEO Mohammed al-Turki said the event does not only serve as a clear indicator of change, but it also plays a significant role “in transforming and reshaping the future for our next generation of creatives.”

Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of the festival, said: “The Red Sea International Film Festival has an important role to play in ensuring women’s stories are showcased to as many people as possible and providing a platform to ensure their voices are heard. We strive to establish ways for women to succeed as storytellers as they continue to shape our cultural landscape. Together with Vanity Fair we are celebrating women who are leading the way and inspiring a new generation of creatives.”

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