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(First Secretary-Public Diplomacy), Mr Peter Varghese (Australian High Commissioner), Pallavi Sharda (Oz Fest Ambassador) and Dr Lachlan Strahan (Deputy High_1

Indo-Oz bonhomie

Oz Fest’s opening night concert at Purana Qila on 16 October has celebrated two contemporary cultures grounded in ancient tradition. The concert has featured Australian Aboriginal singer/ songwriter Gurrumul Yunupingu, didgeridoo virtuoso Mark Atkins and Indian classical musician Anoushka Shankar against the backdrop of a 3D projection by Sydney-based AGB Events known for Sydney’s Vivid Light Festival. “During the next four months, Oz Fest will showcase the creativity, dynamism and diversity of Australia through major events across India focusing on Australian music, art, food, films, literature, dance, sports, ideas and much more,” announced Mr Varghese, the Australian High Commissioner to India during festival preview in New Delhi on 25th September. “We hope that through Oz Fest, Indians will come to understand more about Australia and our nation’s story – our cultural diversity, our creativity, our strong economy, and the many links between our two nations” added Mr Varghese. Oz Fest starts on 16 October 2012 and concludes on 5 February 2013
Other highlights include the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Road show featuring five comedians and a RAW Comedy competition to find the best new Indian talent in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru; Australian bands Karnivool, Big Scary, Jinja Safari, The Aston Shuffle and Sheppard rocking at THE AUSSIE BBQ in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru; the films of Australia’s first Bollywood star, Fearless Nadia, coming to life with a live music and film show created for the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema; Australia’s National Indigenous Cricket Team playing local Indian teams in one-day and Twenty20 matches in Pune and Mumbai and much more.
Oz Fest’s arts and cultural program will be complemented by business and industry networking events across four cities, with a focus on innovation, science and technology; mining and resources; and food and beverage.
At the briefing, Mr Varghese also introduced four Oz Fest Ambassadors, young Australian Bollywood star Pallavi Sharda, Australian cricket great, Brett Lee, and Australian cooking sensations Gary Mehigan andGeorge Calombaris, who have become household names in India through Australian Masterchef. At the event, Pallavi spoke of her time growing up in Australia, the importance of Indian culture and dance in her life, and why she was supporting Oz Fest, “I was born in Australia. I started learning Bharatha Natyam at the age of three. When people heard my Aussie twang most could never imagine I wore a sari three times a week and stamped my feet to the beat of Carnatic rhythmic drums. Then, in my twenties, I moved to India. For onlookers it seemed impossible that I spent my whole life in a faraway land. Pallavi put it aplomb, “This is Australia. It is multiplicity – the definition of my identity. It is because I am Australian that I am so Indian. For me, one cannot exist without the other. I am proudly both and thrilled to be a part of Oz Fest. The Australian Government will join hands with 24 government, business, institutional and production partners to present over 100 events in 18 locations across India as part of Oz Fest.

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