Indian Film Festival of Melbourne celebrates 14 years

Celebrating its 14th anniversary, the 2023 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne will honour a slate of Indian directors, performers and Bollywood superstars.

The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) is the largest annual celebration of Indian cinema outside of India. Now in its 14th year, the Festival boasts some of the most diverse, inclusive, groundbreaking films, filmmakers and performers from India and the Indian subcontinent.

This year’s IFFM kicks off on Friday 11 August with the 2023 IFFM Awards Event at a glitzy red carpet gala event at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, where the nominees and winners will be celebrated in song, dance and speeches.

The official opening night is the next evening, on Saturday 12 August, at Hoyts District Docklands, with prominent Indian director R Balki attending for the premiere of his much-anticipated new film Ghoomer, which has been described as ‘the inspiring tale of a paraplegic sportsperson, played by Saiyami [Kher], who excels as a cricketer under the guidance of her coach, played by Abhishek [Bachchan]’. Balki will be joined by rising stars Kher and Angad Bedi, along with the legendary actress Shabana Azmi.

Other highlights include Kanu Behl’s Agra, fresh from its standing ovation at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, exploring sexual repression and family dynamics in contemporary India, where young Indians experimenting with sexual choices are still bound by traditional values. Behl will also be attending a Q&A event for the film. Another anticipated standout is the queer Indian film Pine Cone, directed by Onir.

‘Pine Cone’, IFFM 2023. Image: Supplied.

Another standout in the program is the ‘harrowing but hopeful documentary Fatima about a woman who escaped a life of sex-trafficking at the Indo-Nepali border and now fights for justice to bring hope to the next generation of young girls’. Fatima herself will be attending the Q&A.

Some of the confirmed guests for this  year’s Festival include Bollywood superstars Kartik Aaryan, Rana Daggubati, Bhumi Pednekar, Mrunal Thakur and Malaika Arora, as well as directors Kanu Behl, and Varun Grover. This year IFFM is also celebrating Karan Johar’s 25 years as a director.

Read: MIFF announces $300,000 prize pool, film awards, nominees and jury

The IFFM Chats event will take place at the National Gallery of Victoria on Sunday 13 August, and will include: a look at the widespread success of the Telugu romantic period drama Sita Ramam and a revival in epic Indian love stories, an examination of the globalisation of south Indian cinema with Baahubali star Rana Daggubati, and a look at cinema’s role in sustainability with actress and climate change champion Bhumi Pedneka. 

IFFM Festival Director, Mitu Bhowmick Lange. Image: Supplied.

Festival Director, Mitu Bhowmick Lange, says, ‘We are delighted to welcome some of the most loved, respected and diverse voices from India to our festival this year. The vast variety of films and events has been carefully curated to ensure that there is something for everything and it’s truly representative of the depth and richness of Indian cinema.’

The nominees for the 2023 IFFM Indian awards are:

Best Film

  • Bhediya (Hindi)
  • Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva (Hindi) 
  • Darlings (Hindi) 
  • Jogi (Punjabi) 
  • Kantara (Kannada) 
  • Monica, O My Darling (Hindi)
  • Pathaan (Hindi) 
  • Ponniyin Selvan 1 & 2 (Tamil)
  • Sita Raman (Telugu) 

Best Indie Film 

  • Aatma-Pamphlet (Autobio Pamphlet) (Marathi) 
  • Agra (Hindi) 
  • All India Rank (Hindi) 
  • Family (Malayalam) 
  • Gulmohar (Hindi) 
  • Hadinelentu (Seventeeners) (Kannada) 
  • Joram (Hindi) 
  • Pine Cone (Hindi) 
  • Tora’s Husband (Assamese)
  • The Storyteller (Hindi) 
  • Zwigato (Hindi) 

Best Performance (Male) Feature 

  • Chiyaan Vikram for Ponniyin Selvan 1 / 2 (Tamil) 
  • Dulquer Salmaan for Sita Ramam (Telugu) 
  • Kapil Sharma for Zwigato  (Hindi) 
  • Manoj Bajpayee for Gulmohar  (Hindi) 
  • Manoj Bajpayee for Joram  (Hindi) 
  • Mohit Agarwal for Agra (Hindi)
  • Paresh Rawal for The Storyteller (Hindi) 
  • Rajkummar Rao for Monica O My Darling (Hindi) 
  • Rishab Shetty for Kantara  (Kannada) 
  • Shah Rukh Khan for Pathaan (Hindi) 
  • Vijay Varma for Darlings (Hindi) 

Best Performance (Female) Feature 

  • Akshatha Pandavapura for Koli Esru (Kannada) 
  • Alia Bhatt for Darlings (Hindi)
  • Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Ponniyin Selvan 1 / 2 (Tamil) 
  • Bhumi Pednekar for Bheed (Hindi) 
  • Kajol for Salaam Venky (Hindi)
  • Mrunal Thakur for Sita Ramam  (Telugu) 
  • Neena Gupta for Vadh (Hindi)
  • Rani Mukherjee for Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway (Hindi)
  • Sai Pallavi for Gargi (Tamil)
  • Sanya Malhotra for Kathal (Hindi) 

Best Director 

  • Ashish Avinash Bende for Aatma-Pamphlet (Autobio Pamphlet) (Marathi) 
  • Anurag Kashyap for Kennedy (Hindi) 
  • Anant Mahadevan for The Storyteller (Hindi) 
  • Devashish Makhija for Joram (Hindi) 
  • Don Palathara for Family (Malayalam) 
  • Kanu Behl for Agra (Hindi)
  • Mani Ratnam for Ponniyin Selvan 1 & 2 (Tamil) 
  • Nandita Das for Zwigato  (Hindi) 
  • Prithvi Konanur for Hadinelentu (Seventeeners) (Kannada)
  • Rima Das for Tora’s Husband (Assamese) 
  • Siddharth Anand for Pathaan (Hindi) 
  • Vasan Bala for Monica O My Darling (Hindi) 

Best Documentary 

  • Against The Tide (Marathi, Hindi) 
  • Be Kucheye Khoshbakht (And,  Towards Happy Alleys) (Persian) 
  • Dharti Latar Re Horo (Tortoise  Under The Earth) (Santhali)
  • Fatima (Hindi) 
  • To Kill a Tiger (Nagpuri, Hindi)
  • While We Watched (Hindi,  English) 


Best Performance (Male) Series 

  • Abhishek Bachchan in Breathe – Into the Shadows (Season 2)
  • Abhay Deol in Trial By Fire
  • Aparshakti Khurana in Jubilee
  • Prosenjit Chatterjee in Jubilee
  • Shahid Kapoor in Farzi 
  • Sidhant Gupta in Jubilee
  • Vijay Sethupati in Farzi 
  • Vijay Varma in Dahaad 

Best Performance (Female) Series 

  • Rajshri Deshpande in Trial By  Fire 
  • Rasika Dugal in Delhi Crime S2
  • Shriya Pilgaonkar in The Broken  News 
  • Shefali Shah in Delhi Crime S2
  • Sriya Reddy in Suzhal: The Vortex 
  • Sonakshi Sinha in Dahaad
  • Tillotama Shome in Delhi Crime  S2 
  • Wamiqa Gabbi in Jubilee 

Best Series 

  • Dahaad 
  • Delhi Crime S2 
  • Farzi 
  • Jubilee 
  • She S2 
  • Suzhal: The Vortex 
  • The Broken News 
  • Trial By Fire 

The 2023  IFFM Awards Jury Panel includes Cannes prize-winning documentary filmmaker Shirley Abraham, Australian director and screenwriter Geoffrey  Wright, Bruce Beresford, editor Jill Bilcock, journalist Anna M M Vetticad, Variety Indian correspondent Naman Ramachandran, and Indian film critics Rajeev Masand and Shubhra Gupta.  

The 2023 Indian Film Festival Melbourne runs 11-20 August in cinemas at HOYTS Melbourne Central, HOYTS District Docklands, HOYTS Chadstone, HOYTS Highpoint, Arts Centre Melbourne, Alexandra Gardens and the National Gallery of Victoria. Some films are also accessible to stream free of charge via IFFM Streaming Platform.