The 43rd International Film Festival of India took off to a grand start today with Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar inaugurating the cinematic extravaganza that celebrates the 100 years of Indian cinema over the next 10 days.
Recalling his early connection to cinema and how his family skipped meals to buy movie tickets, the 45-year-old actor said it was incredible that the country was celebrating the 100-year-old cinematic legacy at IFFI.
"This international film festival is an occasion to remember what cinema is all about. Let me start by telling what cinema means to me. Cinema means to me emotion, excitement, suspense but most important what it means to me is family time."
"When I was a kid every weekend me, my sister, my mom and my dad, we would go without lunch every single Saturday of every month so that at night my family could afford four tickets and four samosas and four mango stick ice creams," Akshay said.
The 45-year-old actor said it is because of his father that his choice of movies largely depend on what the masses want.
"Religiously to this date I treat my family on Saturdays but fortunately I don't have to skip lunch... It is our biggest connection in life. So I owe my entire life's happiness to Indian cinema," Akshay said.
The actor asked the nearly 2000 strong gathering to stand silently for a minute to remember his father-in-law Rajesh Khanna, Yash Chopra, Dev Anand, AK Hangal, Ashok Mehta and Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray.
Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi, 73, received a standing ovation from the audience as he was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement award by Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari.