By Sohel F Fidai :
Ahead of August 2020, when the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne will walk into its eleventh year with a grand opening, the team organized a prelude event in Mumbai before their main event in Melbourne. The multi-award-winning, much-loved film festival, considered amongst the largest film Indian film festivals in the world has year on year seen the presence of Bollywood’s creme de la creme including Shah Rukh Khan as the chief guest last year.
While it’s been 10 wonderful years, festival director Mitu Bhowmik Lange is gearing up to make this 2020 celebrations just as grand. The festival’s association with La Trobe University also culminated in the launch of the Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University Ph.D. scholarship which was announced at the festival last year. It has been dedicated to a female researcher – Gopika Kottantharayil Bhasi from Thrissur (Kerala), working on farming practices through animal science, ecology, and molecular studies. She was chosen from over 800 Indian women for the honor. She was awarded the four-year scholarship at a ceremony in Mumbai on February 26.
In a statement, Mitu says, “It has been an overwhelming journey that has gathered strength from all quarters in the last 10 years. Having Mr. Khan support a young researcher’s dream is a step towards us collectively furthering our social responsibilities. I and all of us at IFFM wish Gopika the very best. We hope to continue our work towards cinema and society unequivocally.
Khan, in a statement, said, “I would like to personally thank Mitu. I take myself as the first-hand ambassador of Melbourne and I attended the Indian film festival of Melbourne last year and it was such a warm and hospitable experience. I’m a staunch believer in education and I would like to congratulate Gopika. The way forward for everyone is to gain an education and there’s never an end to learning. The key to Empower women’s world over is only by providing them with education. I think education in India or anywhere else in the world is a step forward. Gopika is fortunate that she’s soon going to be studying at La Trobe which is a fantastic university and I’m glad she’s getting this opportunity to do a Ph.D. in her research. I admire Gopika’s dedication and determination. This scholarship will enable her to travel to La Trobe in Melbourne, Australia where she will pursue her dreams of helping to improve India’s agriculture sector. I wish her well.”