Amitabh Bachchan - Indian cinemaTwo of the biggest names of the Indian film industry – veteran superstar Amitabh Bachchan (pictured) and the late film director and entrepreneur Yash Chopra – will be honoured by La Trobe University.

On 6 May the University will officially rename 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 will be opened by the late director’s wife, Pamela Chopra.

Yash Chopra is regarded as the ‘King of Romance’ of Indian cinema. He directed some 50 films during a career of more than five decades, including his 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.

Later in the year Amitabh Bachchan – an actor widely revered throughout India – will launch a special PhD scholarship that will bear his name. The University will also bestow on Mr Bachchan the inaugural La Trobe University Global Citizenship Award.

Mr Bachchan has appeared in more than 180 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.

Their Yash Chopra Cinema renaming event  is being held in association with the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) which starts on 3 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.

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 agreed 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.

More details are available here: renaming of the Agora Cinema.

(Update: See a video of the Yash Chopra Cinema opening ceremony here)

Media contact:

Ernest Raetz
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