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BAFTA Goes Bollywood Weekend

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By: Fuad Omar, IndiaFM
Monday, July 17, 2006

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has begun its 'BAFTA Goes Bollywood' weekend with a press conference and screening of Devdas, which was followed by a Q&A session with actor Shah Rukh Khan.

This is the first time the Academy has opened its doors to Bollywood in such a way and the weekend will give many the opportunity to learn more about Indian cinema and introduce the variety and wonder it has to offer.

At the press conference on Friday, held at the Academy's premises at 195 Piccadilly, BAFTA Chairman Duncan Kenworthy welcomed his guests and introduced the start of what would be a celebration of Bollywood. His guests were no strangers to cinema success as Yash Chopra, Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan embraced this opportunity to speak to Duncan and the press about all things Bollywood - from the length of the films to their international acceptance.

"This event is essentially to introduce Bollywood to the Academy and people in the arts," said Duncan Kenworthy who admitted an interest in Indian cinema and the elements that make it so unique.

When asked about the star system in Indian cinema, Shah Rukh Khan agreed it existed but also said it was open to newcomers who in turn became stars and then heralded their own attraction to films.

"I'm from outside the industry and have come from Delhi and am the biggest case in point that yes, the star system is in place in every industry and it should be there," he said.

"Quentin Tarantino said in one of his interviews that the film industries that survive are the ones that have a star system and he pointed out the Indian film industry in the interview and how it had survived the onslaught of Hollywood and other Western cinema and not given up or become swallowed up by any other form of cinema because there is a star system. So it's a good thing. I don't think it's restricted to a certain talent because there are newcomers who come every once in a while and make it too."

The three guests, who in themselves represented the most successful pioneers of Indian cinema, also took time to speak about the recent tragedy in Mumbai.

"Before coming out here we just spoke out on camera against these acts and not only expressed support but also asked people to not get misled and not to react or get influenced by people who might use religion as something that makes them go out and use violence," said Karan Johar.

Yash Chopra reiterated the point that there were no divides within the film industry and he always saw this as a reflection of how things should be.

"The film industry is the most secular in the world. We respect art irrespective of caste, creed and color. We are always together," he said, generating a respectful silence and agreement from all.

"Terrorism is happening all over the world and people always stand together and evoke the spirit of a city or a country and say we are not going to succumb and we're going to come back," said Shah Rukh Khan.

"But the truth is that there is no coming back, because it's a very sad situation for people who've suffered. I don't think we should keep propagating the fact that 'let's come back', I personally feel as strong as 'hit back', in whatever sense. Even in the sense of just trying to curb the thought of violence. I think that is what needs to be done. It's a reality we all need to be aware of and we need to educate youngsters and everyone who listens to us, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, our friends and kids and tell them we have to take away that thought of violence."

'The BAFTA Goes Bollywood weekend' will highlight Indian cinema through screenings of Devdas, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Veer Zaara, Dil Chahta Hai and Rang De Basanti alongside a master class in direction by Karan Johar and Interviews with Shah Rukh Khan, Yash Chopra, Aamir Khan and Preity Zinta.

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