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Bollywood-Inspired Love Story Aims to Heal Tensions Between Australia, India

The makers of a Bollywood-inspired film about an Australian who falls in love with an Indian university student hope to ease tensions over recent attacks on foreign students in Melbourne and Sydney. A Mumbai television company has bought the screening rights to the love story Priya, which was made by university students in Adelaide.

Priya tells the story of an Australian student Sam who falls in love with Priya, an Indian girl at school. In true Bollywood style, the path to true love is littered with obstacles, not least of which are the objections of the girl's father.

The short movie, which began as an undergraduate project at Flinders University in Adelaide, has become an advertisement for cultural harmony following a series of assaults on Indian students in Australia.

Writer and director Chris Kellett says the support he has received for the film has been overwhelming.

"The Indian community jumped on board and the local Indian community were amazing. We had some calls from Sydney and Melbourne after they saw an ad saying 'Hey you know, we would like to be involved in the film,' and everything. We had to say 'well, that is great. If you can get here that is fine, but we are shooting in Adelaide.' So once they jumped in, the film went to a new level and the fact that we had their support was huge," said Kellett.

The movie cost just $2,500 to make, but is expected to be shown in dozens of countries. Zee TV, a satellite television company in Mumbai, has picked up the screening rights for Priya.

The attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney have strained diplomatic relations between Canberra and New Delhi. Australian police say some of the violence was racially motivated, but that most of the attacks were the work of opportunistic criminals preying on easy targets.

Politicians and the news media in India, however, accused Australian authorities of not doing enough to protect expatriate students from racist gangs.

The violence, including an unsolved murder of a Punjabi accounting graduate, has caused a drop in the number of young Indians coming to study in Australia.