La Trobe hosts Bollywood greats

Two of the biggest names in the Indian film industry have shared their expertise at an exclusive screening of their blockbuster movie Sanju, at La Trobe University.

In their only Australian university appearance, director Rajkumar Hirani and writer Abhijat Joshi spoke at a sold out event at the University’s Melbourne Campus in Bundoora.

Following an interactive discussion with the stars of Sanju – led by La Trobe’s Hindi Language, Cinema and Literature Lecturer, Dr Ian Woolford – the movie was screened as part of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

Mr Hirani said he was grateful to the University for throwing such a fantastic and inclusive event.

“It’s always an enriching experience when people of different diaspora watch our films,” Mr Hirani said.

“I’m grateful to have been a part of this special screening for the students at La Trobe. It was such an interesting experience to be able to see, first hand, the reactions of those who are almost alien to Hindi films and the life of Sanjay Dutt – who this movie is based on.”

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said the University has had a strong history with India and the Indian community since the late 1960s.

“I’m very proud of the long partnership La Trobe has had, and continues to build, with India,” Professor Dewar said.

“Just last year, we strengthened our relationships with some of India’s leading institutions including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Amity University and O.P. Jindal Global University, Lovely Professional University and Chandigarh University.

“We also announced new scholarship opportunities including Collaborative Research and PhD scholarships with JSS University.”

Professor Dewar said he was delighted so many people in the Indian community had flocked to see two Bollywood legends.

He said having Mr Hirani and Mr Joshi visit the University was an honour and now added to the growing list of famous Indian names to walk La Trobe’s halls.

“Looking back, we’ve been lucky enough to host Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi, Kapil Dev, Malaika Arora Khan, Vidya Balan and Amitabh Bachchan,” Professor Dewar said.

“Mr Hirani and Mr Joshi are masters in their respective fields. They have been more than generous with the crowd tonight, answering any and all questions about the film industry. It has proved an invaluable and special experience for all.

La Trobe already has an established connection with Bollywood, such as when its campus was used as a backdrop for many scenes in the feature film Salaam Namaste. Additionally, La Trobe is the only University in Victoria to teach Hindi.

Mr Hirani is known for his highly popular films. He has directed box office hits such as Munna Bhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai, P.K. and 3 Idiots.

Mr Joshi is the national award-winning writer behind successful movies Lage Raho Munnabhai, 3 Idiots and PK. He has a background in literature and is a professor in the English department at Otterbein University in Ohio. Together with Mr Hirani, he wrote the script for the biopic, Sanju.

Sanju is currently the fifth highest grossing film in Bollywood and tells the real-life story of actor Sanjay Dutt.

The film explores what it means to live with the adulation of diehard fans, brushes with the underworld, prison terms, the loss of loved ones and addiction.

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Media Contact: Dragana Mrkaja – 0447 508 171 /

About La Trobe University:

  • La Trobe is ranked in the top 1.5 per cent of universities worldwide*
    *QS World University Rankings 2019 - Webometrics Ranking Web of Universities 2018
  • La Trobe is ranked 59th in the Times Higher Education Golden Age university rankings*
    *Times Higher Education Golden Age university ranking 2018
  • La Trobe has the largest metropolitan campus in Australia*
    *Times Higher Education best universities in Melbourne 2018
  • Since 2011 La Trobe University has supported promoting all subcontinent cultures and communities in Australia as the Learning Partner of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM)
  • La Trobe is the only Victorian University teaching Hindi language
  • In 2014, IFFM collaborated with La Trobe to inaugurate the ‘Shri Amitabh Bachchan’ scholarship of $200,000 for Indian students to develop a thesis related to digital technology, media and communication. This prestigious scholarship was presented by Amitabh Bachchan himself at La Trobe’s Melbourne campus in Bundoora
  • In 2016 Vidya Balan visited the Melbourne campus to launch La Trobe University’s Educate the Educators program, providing 15 La Trobe students with grants for travel to India, where they worked with local teachers to develop their skills for assisting children with special needs in the classroom
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