Students sow seeds for the next Slumdog Millionaire

LINKS between a giant of the Scottish film industry and Indian filmmakers have already helped create one of the decade's biggest movies.

Now it is hoped that a new link-up between film students in Edinburgh and top Bollywood talent could lead to the next Slumdog Millionaire, the Mumbai-set smash-hit made by Shallow Grave and Trainspotting director Danny Boyle.

Students from Edinburgh Napier University's Screen Academy Scotland are taking part in a new exchange programme with counterparts in Kolkata.

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Some Napier students have already travelled to the Indian city to work on a script they had written under the scheme.

And they are now working with Indian film crews who are in Edinburgh to film Mausam, starring 29-year-old Bollywood sensation Shahid Kapoor.

The link-up was celebrated last night at a reception in the City Chambers hosted by the city's festival and events champion Steve Cardownie.

Councillor Cardownie said: "Scottish filmmakers are forging valuable links all over the world and this exchange with Kolkata looks certain to be a very fruitful one for all concerned.

"Edinburgh has just celebrated its 64th International Film Festival, welcoming directors, writers, actors and film fans from all corners of the globe for a cinema festival which one Oscar-nominated director, Sylvain Chomet, recently hailed as being better than Cannes.

"It's very fitting, then, that Scotland's Capital should be at the centre of new and better connections between our film-makers and those from other nations."

Like Edinburgh, Kolkata has its own film festival, and it was at the event in 2008 that links with Napier were first forged.

The exchange with the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) was designed to reflect the different working traditions of the two countries. During a first trip last November, two staff and four students worked with students at the SRFTI to make the short film Tuki, which was written by Napier student Gayle Baird and featured Bengali actors.

Four SRFTI students are now in Edinburgh to help work on Mausam, about an Indian boy who leaves his life – and girlfriend – in Scotland to fight in the Indian Air Force during the Kargil war with Pakistan.

Filming is currently taking place at various locations across the city, including Portobello Cemetery and Colinton.

Robin MacPherson, director of Screen Academy Scotland, said: "The connection we established on our first visit to Kolkata in November 2008 has blossomed into an exciting creative collaboration between Scotland and West Bengal where we are able to share ideas."

The Scottish Government recently launched its India Plan to encourage links between India and Scotland. Minister for culture and external affairs Fiona Hyslop said: "Initiatives like the Kolkata Film Exchange are bringing the India Plan to life. This is the first in what I hope will be a long line of increasingly fruitful cultural partnerships."

MELA OFFERS BONAFIDE ATTRACTIONS

THE best newcomer in the UK Asian Music Awards, Jaz Dhami, will star at this year's Edinburgh Mela Festival along with Punjabi rapper duo Bonafide and Asian pop sensation Taz from Stereo Nation.

Organisers were also set to announce today that Northern Xposure, the Bafta-nominated brother and sister rapping duo from Edinburgh, will perform at the three-day event.

This year's event, which takes place from 6-8 August, is moving to Leith Links due to its growing popularity.

Mela Festival chair, Councillor Steve Cardownie, said: "Community involvement with the Mela has grown year on year.

"The Mela is an event which has something for everyone from families with young children to art and music aficionados."