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Cinematic excellence at 50th International Film Festival

Raju Vernekar *



The 50th International Film Festival of India got off to a colourful start at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in door stadium at Panaji, Goa on Wednesday, ending the long wait of cinephiles across the world. At a grand ceremony hosted by bollywood film Director Karan Johar, the megastar Amitabh Bachchan and the ‘Thalaiva’ of Indian film industry Rajinikanth flagged off the extravaganza and announced the festival open, in the presence of Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar and other official dignitaries.

Rajinikanth was conferred with the ‘Icon Of Golden Jubilee Award’ for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema, while Amitabh Bachchan was felicitated for his 50 years filmy career.

Rajinikanth expressed his happiness to receive the prestigious award from Amitabh Bachchan and dedicated it to all the producers, directors and technicians who worked in his films, his fans and people of Tamil Nadu. Bachchan expressing his happiness in being honoured stated, “I am indebted to my fans and I have no words to express my gratitude to International Film Festival of India (IFFI) for honouring me and having a retrospective of my films.”

Javadekar said that single window system being introduced by the government will attract more international filmmakers to shoot their films in India. “ India has lots of scenic and beautiful shooting sites for national and international films but shooting at these locations requires around 15-20 permissions. Government is now preparing for single window arrangement which will take care of all the permissions and it will benefit places like Goa, Leh-Ladakh and Andaman & Nicobar,” he said.

Javadekar also dwelt upon the need to make special arrangement to ensure that the sightless persons can enjoy the film. For example they can listen to dialogues but do not understand the scenes since they cannot see. If the narration of scenes is provided it will go a longway. This would hardly cost Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.1/2 lakh pervfilm. I have urged film makers to consider this suggestion, he added.

“Films, IT and music are India’s soft power and we have to take it forward. “Every film and character leaves a long lasting imprint on our mind and it has the power to change our thoughts and mood” Javadekar said and added that the audience for Indian films is growing by leaps and bounds and people across the world really like to watch Indian movies even in China.

On the occasion, Ms. Isabelle Anne Madeleine Huppert, one of French cinema’s defining faces, was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival opened with the Italian film ‘Despite the Fog’ directed by Goran Paskaljevic. The cast and crew of the film also participated in the inaugural function.

India has partnered with Russia, which is “Country of Focus” for the festival. As such eight movies from Russia will be screened in this festival. On the occasion Maria Lemesheva, Head of Russian delegation, said that special concession and facilities will be offered to Indian film makers if they prefer to shoot their films in Russia.

The Goa Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant said that the IFFI package this year is an interesting mix of leisure and entertainment. “ IFFI bridges the gap between India and international film industry and provides the opportunity to explore the cinema,” he said. “We should not forget the objectives of cinema as the mirror of our time and the reflection of our society,’’ he added.

The Secretary Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Amit Khare mentioned the noteworthy highlights of this year’s festival and noted the tremendous change in the last 50 editions from a participation of 23 countries in 1952, to 76 countries this year.

Lights and luminaries of film industry such as world known Cinematographer and Chairman of IFFI International Jury John Bailey; Indian film maker, and Chairman of Indian jury Priyadarshan and other jury members of Indian and International jury graced the opening ceremony. A host of celebrities sashayed the red carpet, adding to the pomp and gaiety of the function.

As the festival glitters in its golden glory, former Goa Chief Minister late Manohar Parikkar, the man who made IFFI synonymous with Goa, was given a befitting tribute at the opening ceremony by screening a short film depicting his contribution to IFFI. Legends of Indian film industry Ramesh Sippy, N. Chandra and P.C. Sreeram were honoured at the inaugural ceremony. Javadekar released the commemorative postage stamp of 50th IFFI at the function.

The inaugural ceremony of the festival also saw various senior official dignitaries such as Union Minister for AYUSH Shripad Naik, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Shri Amit Khare, Prasar Bharati Chairman A. Suryaprakash, Central Board of Film Certification Chairman Prasoon Joshi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Atul Kumar Tiwari, Festival Director Chaitanya Prasad, and Vice Chairman Entertainment Society of Goa. Subhash Phal Desai.

In the festival which will be on till 28 November, over 200 films from 76 countries will be shown. They include the films in 26 Indian languages, 26 feature films, 15 non feature films and 12 films who came completed 50 years. Around 7000 delegates are participating in the golden edition of IFFI. Various categories include Oscar retrospectives, documentaries, short films, World Panorama, Golden jubilee retrospectives and restored Indian classics.

The films from North East India include the Assamese films- “Aparoopa”, Directed by B N Saikia, “Dr Bezbaruah”, directed by Brajen Barua, “Bohubritta”, Directed by Utpal Dutta, “In the Land of Poison Women”, (Assamese/(Pangchenpa), Directed by Manju Borah, “Lewduh” (Khasi/Garo), Directed by Pradip Kurbah and “Ama Khando”, Directed by Dr Dhondup Tsering (from Tibet).

The inaugural ceremony also witnessed some enthralling audio visual performances which kept the audience spellbound through the evening. Noted music singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan and his band won the hearts with a spectacular performance that put the cine lovers and spectators in a frenzy. When rhymes and rhythms from different parts of India juxtaposed with the beats of international sounds, it was a treat for the audience.


* Raju Vernekar wrote this article for Imphal Times
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional base in Mumbai. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/ production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems.
This article was webcasted on November 24, 2019.



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