There is a long-term appreciation of Indian cinema in Indonesia. Since the Independence of both countries in the late 1940s, Indian cinema has gained roots in Indonesia as a symbol of commonality of world views and human emotions. In the early years of independent Indonesia, Indian cinema was mainstream cinema and slowly the Indonesian cinema itself emerged. Today there are large numbers of international films which are shown in Jakarta where there has been boom in multiplexes. Cinema has become an important entertainment source and art form and through it the culture and civilisation of many countries reached to Indonesian minds.
The centenary of Indian cinema was celebrated in a big way in Jakarta. The Embassy of India and the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Culture Centre (JNICC) took the lead to a series of events which has evoked much interest
The programme set in with a major exposition of Indian Ikat through the eyes of a leading Indonesian designer, Didiet Maulana, who created his fall/winter collection based on Indian fabrics which were brought through the Development Commissioner of Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. This rare fashion show was also a tribute to Bollywood as the designer said that he and his team have breathed Indian cinema for several months to come up with this tribute which showed Indian Ikat which they converted to a full ready-to-wear collection. The leading Indonesian model Izabel Jahja was the show stopper for the evening. The show brought Indian Ikat, which has similarity with Indonesian Ikat tradition, to the fore through the eyes of one of the leading Ikat designers who is well known through the Ikat Indonesian
The fashion show was preceded by the screening of India’s first feature film Raja Harischandra made in 1913. The silent movie which intrigued the invited audience was set to live music on the violin by Mr. Johar Ali, the music teacher at the JNICC. As the fashion show unfolded, there was a medley of dances and music bringing forth the diversity of Indian films music and dance over the 100 years in a special tribute by the dance students of the JNICC The unique three-entry-point approach of the dancers, their quick changes and fast turnaround from period to period were widely appreciated.
Speaking on the occasion Ambassador Gurjit Singh said: “2013 is a unique milestone in Indian cinema. The centenary celebrations in Jakarta are a tribute to the love of the people of Indonesia for Indian cinema as we believe that Indian cinema has been an important element of the people to people and cultural linkages between India and Indonesia.” The chief guest on the occasion was Dr. Irman Gusman and his wife, Mrs. Listyani, Chairman of the House of Regional Representatives (DPD) (Upper House of the Parliament). He along with Ambassador Gurjit Singh unveiled the posters exhibition by lifting the veil of the film poster of Mother India. Fifty posters of films were exhibited for several days at the venue.
On the occasion, Jakarta Globe, through media partnership between Embassy of India and Berita Satu carried an article by Ambassador Gurjit Singh on Indian cinema. The weekly news magazine Tempo also carried another op-ed piece on Indian cinema written by Ambassador Gurjit Singh. A Bollywood quiz was also held on the occasion and attractive prizes were given to the winners. At the conclusion of the show, it rained outside catching people unaware—as some people said ‘Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi wo barsaat ki raat’.
The Directorate of Film Festivals supported the Embassy’s efforts for having the unique film week in Jakarta. Fifty iconic films from the Indian panorama section of the DFF were screened on the occasion. These complemented the regular Saturday evening screenings of Indian films at the Embassy Auditorium specially to mark the centenary of Indian cinema. The films were not only in Hindi but also had Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali and English shows.
Mr. Sujay Gosh, director of the award-winning Kahaani, which was also shown on the occasion, participated in the events and spoke at the screening of his film. He also participated at the symposium ‘Our Films, Their Films’.
The symposium was attended by several Indonesian film-makers including Mr. Harry Dagoe, film director, Mr. Ve Handojo, script writer, Mr. Putut Widjanarko, film producer, Ms Rahayu Saraswati, film actress and Ms. Sha Ine Febriyanti, film actress & director. The areas such as film finance, film infrastructure and the value of location in Indonesia and the well known tourist destinations were discussed during the seminar. There was a feeling that India and Indonesia with a strong historic connection and civilisational linkages, cultural appreciation of each other and with a great acceptability of Indian cinema in Indonesian minds, were well placed to start a new area of cooperation. While speaking at the symposium, Ambassador Gurjit Singh focussed on the growing avenues for greater engagement between young film-makers of India and Indonesia to look to a new genre of film making from young eyes. He gave the idea of greater collaboration between the film industries of both in terms of art and business. He invited Indonesian film-makers to participate in the International Film Festival of India held annually and also asked Indonesians to avail of the hospitality of Directorate of Film Festival to bring Indonesian films to Indian audience. The Director General of Arts & Culture-based Creative Economy, Prof. Ahman Sya, speaking on the occasion informed that the Government of Indonesia was creating a single window for clearance of foreign shooting teams to promote Indonesia as a film destination. He said that Indonesia would be interested in providing a framework for co-production of films between India and Indonesia.
A special publication Weave of Friendship was issued on the occasion at a press conference preceding the events. It covered all the events of the period, providing a background to the films, giving information on Indian cinema and Indian Ikat and also highlighted outreach activities undertaken by the Embassy of India and JNICC over the last year. The publication has been well received by Indonesians who have found it as a great source of information and effective tool of communication.
The celebrations of the centenary of Indian cinema came to a close with a scintillating performance by Shankar Ehsaan Loy who are popularised as firebrand of Indian music, gave their live performance at the concluding function organised by DML Live and was supported by Standard Chartered Bank to mark their 150th anniversary of their presence in Indonesia. Shankar Ehsaan Loy at a special 30-minute retro gave a tribute to the legends of Indian cinema music.
The events received wide support from the Directorate of Film Festivals, the Development Commissioner of Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, PT. Megasari Makmur Group (Godrej Company Group), MAP—Pt. Mitra Adiperkasa TBK and Standard Chartered Bank. The Berita Satu was the main media partner and other partners included Kapan Lagi and Kompas.com.
By Shinta Widianti from Jakarta