By CAMERON LUCADOU-WELLS
DANDENONG’S DJ Baba has a lot to thank the Oscar-winning Bollywood film Slumdog Millionaire for.
The popularity of the cult film propelled his garage home business into a Bollywood music and film wonderland – Baba Home Entertainment – in Dandenong’s Little India precinct.
Baba, also known as Mohammad Saheed, is hoping for a similar trade boost from the precinct’s inaugural Bollywood Festival on April 15.
Baba is one of many DJs at Bollywood theme parties, birthdays, weddings and engagements, as well as Western beats like R&B and house.
The recent Rahat concert in Melbourne was a sellout, Baba says. Yet at the same time, Little India’s traders have suffered a consumer drought during two years of the Revitalising Central Dandenong construction works.
The difficulties for the precinct have been reported at length, including widespread demolitions, road closures and parking shortages.
“It used to be so busy on weekends. It’s now dead. It’s like we have to start from scratch,” Baba says. “We want to show people we’re still here and we’re still in business.”
At the festival, Baba will be one of many performers including Bollywood and Fijian exponents, belly dancers, tabla and sitar musicians, as well as African drummers.
The streets will be transformed into a colourful Indian bazaar, say organisers. There will be stalls festooned with pink, gold, red and yellow paper flowers and the air will be filled with curry and incense aromas.
In Pop-up Park, there will be Bollywood dance and yoga lessons, and Cricket Victoria will hold workshops and scratch matches for children.
The festival is at 11am-6pm on April 15 at Little India and Pop-up Park, Dandenong. Details: littleindiadandenong.com.au.