Two of the biggest names of the Indian film industry, veteran superstar Amitabh Bachchan and the late film director and entrepreneur Yash Chopra, have been honoured by La Trobe University.
In early May the University renamed its Agora Cinema the Yash Chopra Cinema for one year, launching a series of Indian film screenings that will make the campus a focus for Melbourne’s Indian community.
The renamed cinema was opened by the late director’s wife, Pamela Chopra. ‘The finest way to pay tribute to a film maker is to name a cinema after him,’ Mrs Chopra said. (See more in film clip below.)
Yash Chopra is regarded as the ‘King of Romance’ of Indian cinema. He produced some 50 films during a career of more than five decades, including the popular 2005 work Salaam Namaste, set partly at the University’s Bundoora campus.
Mr Chopra also founded Yash Raj Films, one of India’s biggest cinema production and distribution companies, as well as Yash Raj Studios.
Bachchan Global Citizen Award
The University has also named a special PhD scholarship after Amitabh Bachchan, an actor widely revered throughout India, and will bestow on him the inaugural La Trobe University Global Citizenship Award.
Mr Bachchan has appeared in more than180 films since the 1970s. He has occupied the top slot of ‘Box Office India’s Top Actors’ list for a record sixteen years in a row.
The two developments coincided with the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) being held in May with support from the State Government of Victoria. The University is a sponsor of the festival which features a retrospective of Bachchan films and also celebrates the work of Yash Chopra.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said the Sri Amitabh Bachchan Doctoral Scholarship will be awarded to a deserving student of Indian citizenship.
Four-year $200,000 scholarships
Valued at up to $200,000 over four years, it will enable the holder to carry out advanced studies at the University in a field of relevance to India including media, philosophy and film.
Professor Dewar said La Trobe’s new Global Citizenship Award was designed for people who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to intercultural understanding.
‘Amitabh Bachchan is a fitting inaugural recipient. We are very proud to honour him for the leadership he has shown in his film career and for making an international impact,’ Professor Dewar said.
The University, he said, was also delighted to rename the La Trobe Agora cinema after Yash Chopra, and that his wife had visited the campus to perform the official opening.
‘The renaming of the cinema not only commemorates the brilliant career of the legendary Indian film maker, but also highlights La Trobe’s long-standing Indian links.
‘These links go back to our early days when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited La Trobe in 1968 and, of course, when Yash Chopra filmed Salaam Namaste on our campus in 2005, gaining world-wide exposure for Victoria and the University.’
Professor Dewar said La Trobe’s links to India continued today with a wide range of established academic offerings. These include Indian culture and language, with La Trobe being one of only two Australian universities that taught Hindi. – Ernest Raetz
Watch the Yash Chopra Cinema naming ceremony
Read more about La Trobe and India