Desi Slice in the Land of Oz
A Melbourne-based organisation is bringing local and Indian art and culture to the forefront, giving young students a chance to assimilate better into their adopted homes. Juveria Tabassum in conversation with founder Satish Varma
Founded by Satish Varma, the NRI experience has been a two-way street. The osmosis of his adopted culture into the inherent spirit of home and its quirks drove him to set up Melbourne MAMA, an organisation that works towards creating a strong support structure for Indians living in Australia. A production house and a business hub act under the organisation’s umbrella and provide facilities to let young students explore new avenues in the land down under. The organisation chiefly conducts, often in coordination with the local government, festivals and other Indian cultural events to help the Indian community get a taste of home.
Satish Varma was pursuing his MBA from the Charles Darwin University in Melbourne in 2016, when he decided to explore his passion for filmmaking. “I was introduced to the Melbourne Telangana Forum, and I wanted to create culture-based films that would explore Australians to the land I come from,” says Satish of the beginnings. Today, Melbourne Mama is the official media partner for international powerhouses such as Euros International and Zee Studios. They were also the chief promoters of the Rana Daggubati-starrer Aarya that released earlier this year. Additionally, they are creating a web-series co-produced by Chai-Biscuit, which is slated for release soon. The business hub connects young Indian entrepreneurs living Down Under with investors from across the globe.
With the 30,000 strong Indian student community in Australia, there was never any dearth of expat-talent to bring to the limelight. Satish believes that the push from Melbourne Mama helped the NRI community in Australia break through their shells and experience and celebrate their culture with the locals. “There has been a drastic change in the perception of people,” Satish observes, adding, “they only communicated within themselves. We’ve opened up channels of communication with local and new talent.” Apart from that, the organisation is also a hub for students to fetch vital information regarding networking for jobs, immigration news updates, and generally learning how to live in Australia.
However, integration isn’t a one-way street for Satish and his team. He recognises the need to learn from the locals in terms of dignity of labour, culture, staying independent, and not limiting oneself to expectations and responsibilities. Satish cites the diversity of culture in native Australians, and stresses the importance of celebrating their music, art and handloom too. With a system like Melbourne Mama in place, living abroad can be a grand celebration of the different walks of life we all hail from.