Bollywood bonding to galvanise India-Indonesia creative connect

Buoyed by growing business ties, cultural intermingling and stronger strategic connect, India-Indonesia ties are set to acquire an added momentum with the plan to hold a movie festival to commemorate 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two strategic partners next year.

Recently, Indonesian Ambassador to India Sidharto Suryodipuro announced that the Indonesian embassy plans to hold a movie festival to commemorate 70 years of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and India in 2019. “The Indonesian Embassy would like to cooperate with the Ministry of Culture and Education, Indonesia Film Agency, and Indonesian filmmakers to hold an event in New Delhi and Mumbai next year to promote Indonesian movies,” Mr Suryodipuro said in New Delhi.

Brand Indonesia

The envoy underscored that movies have the potential to serve as a diplomatic tool to promote and brand Indonesian culture and creative excellence in India. “This movie festival will serve as an event to create the Indonesian brand in India. A strong brand will support our efforts to promote Indonesia`s tourism, trade, and other sectors,” he pointed out.

The joint film festival is planned to be held at the embassies of both countries in Delhi and Jakarta. The process of selecting movies has already been initiated.

Bollywood films and Indian television dramas are already a rage in Indonesia, with fan clubs named after iconic Bollywood stars thriving across Indonesia. Now, Indonesia is looking to carve a niche for Indonesian movies in India. The movie industry in Indonesia has a pronounced Indian imprint, with two major production houses, Multivision Plus and MD Entertainment, headed by Indonesians of Indian descent.

In the past few months, the Indonesian embassy has held a series of events, including a musical rendition of Ramayana, to showcase age-old cultural links between the two countries that hark back to realms of myth and history.

Creative Economy

The idea of joint film festival is animated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s larger strategy to diversify the resource-focused economy to enhancing share of creative industries, including films, fashion and handicrafts, in the country’s GDP. In 2015, Mr Widodo, also popularly called Jokowi, set up the Agency for Creative Economy to spur foreign investment in emerging sectors like entertainment, fashion textiles and packaged food. The government’s move to allow foreign investments in films, movie distribution and exhibition has attracted big-ticket foreign investors and iconic production houses like 21st Century Fox Inc. and South Korea’s Lotte Cinema Co. Indonesia plans to scale up share of creative industry in the country’s GDP to 9 percent by 2020.

Indonesia is looking to step up collaboration with India in creative industries as well as IT. “India is a powerhouse in the new economy like IT, e-commerce, services. The prospects and potential, therefore, are there. Indonesia is very keen to strengthen relationship with India in these areas,” the Indonesian envoy told India and World magazine and India Writes Network in an interview.

“Enhanced cooperation with India will greatly benefit Indonesia’s vision of making the country, “The Digital Energy of Asia,” a campaign we have launched to brand Indonesia as an IT and e-commerce hub.”

Strategic Connect

The multi-dimensional ties between India and Indonesia have moved onto a higher trajectory, with two-way visits by Indonesian President Widodo to Delhi in 2016 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Jakarta in June this year.

During Mr Modi’s visit to Jakarta in June 2018, India and Indonesia upgraded their bilateral relationship to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a slew of pacts in diverse areas, including enhanced defence cooperation, space, development and trade and investment. The talks provided an impetus to plans to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port at Sabang, which is located on the tip of Sumatra island and at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, the hub of global maritime trade.

In sync with the spirit of solidarity and friendship, India launched ‘Operation Samudra Maitri’ early this month to provide humanitarian assistance to the earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia. This included dispatching two aircraft and three naval ships carrying relief material to Indonesia. The relief operation was launched after a telephonic conversation between PM Modi and Indonesian President Widodo on October 1, and following Indonesia’s acceptance of international aid.


Author Profile

Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.