Montgomery County Council President Berliner on Bollywood and Omi Vaidya

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Silver Spring, MD – The American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring will be screening two films – 3 IDIOTS and BIG IN BOLLYWOOD on November 14 and 16 respectively at 7:15 PM.

Actor Omi Vaidya, who starred in 3 IDIOTS, will be present for both screenings. For 3 IDIOTS, he will provide the introduction and for BIG IN BOLLYWOOD he will be doing the intro and moderate the Q & A.
More details here:

India America Today spoke to Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner to get a glimpse on this initiative to popularize Bollywood movies in the area.

Can you tell us a little bit about the screenings for 3 IDIOTS and BIG IN BOLLYWOOD?

The screening for 3 IDIOTS will be held at 7:15 PM this coming Tuesday, November 14 at 7:15 PM and the screening for BIG IN BOLLYWOOD will be held at 7:15 PM on Thursday, November 16 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring. Actor Omi Vaidya, who acted in 3 IDIOTS, will be in attendance and will be doing the introduction for 3 IDIOTS and introduction and Q&A for BIG IN BOLLYWOOD.

3 IDIOTS is one of the most successful Bollywood films of all time and is a heartwarming story about friendship, following your heart and chasing excellence to achieve your dreams. BIG IN BOLLYWOOD is a documentary chronicling Omi’s experience working on 3 IDIOTS, from getting cast in the film to becoming a breakout star after its release.

What was the genesis behind holding these screenings?

The screenings are a product of an initiative that I am working on with the AFI Silver Theatre and the Maryland India Business Roundtable to bring mainstream Bollywood films to the Montgomery County and wider DC area audience as an entertaining cultural experience. These screenings are the first step toward doing a bigger Bollywood film festival next year.

In our county, our Indian community is one of our most prolific, where we have more immigrants from India than immigrants from all of the 28 countries that make up the European Union. Our Indian community not only loves Bollywood films, but also views them as a source of connection to India.

Bollywood is one of the largest film industries in the world, producing over 1,000 films a year in India, and this is an attempt to honor the global contribution and impact of that industry.

What do you hope that these screenings will accomplish? What do you view as the future of this initiative?

This initiative is an attempt to reconcile a few different interests. The Indian diaspora is passionate about Bollywood films and I hope that these screenings act to not only meet that passion, but also enhance the experience by having the opportunity to meet a star like Omi Vaidya firsthand. It is exciting that he is currently living in Montgomery County and our residents will have the chance to interact with him.

Montgomery County takes great pride in its diversity and we are proud to participate in celebrations recognizing cultures from around the world. We are also a jurisdiction that is rich in the arts, and our attempt through these screenings and a future festival is to continue to both encourage artistic talent and expand the appreciation for various art forms from around the world.

Finally, I hope that a wider cinema loving audience gets exposed to the unique narrative style of Bollywood films and that we can expand these screenings into a bigger Bollywood film festival.

Please tell us about who you have been working with on this initiative – AFI Silver and the Maryland India Business Roundtable

The AFI Silver Theatre is one of our most important artistic institutions in Montgomery County. They have been leaders in promoting cinema from around the world in our county and I knew that this partnership would meet the mutual interest that AFI Silver, the Maryland India Business Roundtable and I share for Bollywood films. The AFI Silver has a history of great work in this regard and I could think of no one better to host the screenings.

One of the leaders of the Maryland India Business Roundtable, Mr. Elisha Pulivarti, also shared with me his interest in helping provide a wider exposure to Bollywood films in the County and Maryland at large and I knew it would be great to link him with AFI Silver for this work. As a member of the Indian community, Elisha’s work on this initiative is crucial to help us understand the preferences and tastes of the Indian community so that the film screenings and future festival can meet their fullest potential.

I think a question many of our readers have on their mind is – have you seen a Bollywood film?

A few years ago, I had the good fortune of seeing the Bollywood film LAGAAN and thoroughly enjoyed it. From the music, to the emotional story, to the performances and to the lavish scale, I found its narrative compelling. LAGAAN is one of the primary reasons why I believe that Bollywood films should reach a wider audience.

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