By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 18 June 2019)
Heralding a new era of Indian-Kenyan cooperation, the High Commissioner of India to Kenya, H.E. Rahul Chhabra announced the first ever Indian Film Festival would be held in Kenya coincidentally with celebrations of India’s Independence Day from August 10th to 16th.
The Festival will feature six films by Indian filmmakers, one of which is by the Kenyan writer and producer of the award-winning film, ‘Subira’, Sippy Chadha. The other five will include Bollywood and Indian regional films.
“As we understand a number of Indians in Kenya come from either Gujarat or Punjab, we will bring one from each region and three from Bollywood,” said Festival’s curator, Captain Rahul Bali.
Noting that most people think Indian films are only made in Bollywood, Capt. Bali said the Indian film industry is much bigger than that. There are many regional film groups as well.
“In fact, we have the biggest film industry in the world. On average, one Indian film is produced every day,” he said.
The High Commissioner added that due to the success of Bollywood, Indian filmmakers have managed to shoot films all over the world. From Switzerland and Spain to Australia and Holland, such settings have stimulated wide interest among Indian viewers, many of whom become tourists visiting any or all of those countries.
Both Mr Chhabra and Capt. Rali praised Kenya for its potential to become a favored destination for Indian filmmakers. They added they would love to see Kenyan tourism grow through the influence of Indian movies that could be made in this country in future.
“Kenya already receives more than 120,000 Indian tourists every year. Kenyans come to India in large numbers as well,” said the High Commissioner, noting the film festival was not only about movies. “It’s also about tourism and trade.”
There will be a round-table conference during the Festival in which between seven and ten Indian filmmakers will interact with their Kenyan counterparts. That is when the concept of Kenyan-Indian cooperation in making films could begin.
Capt. Rali reinforced the view that Kenya can easily become a destination for Indian filmmakers. “One Indian film was made in Spain, and as soon as it was released, the Spanish tourism [online] portal actually crashed,” he said, highlighting the impact that film has on the Indian population.
He attributed Bollywood’s success to its being “a cinema of fantasy.” He added, “We sell dreams.”