The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will stay in Panaji. This was announced by the union minister for information and broadcasting, Manish Tewari, during his address at the inaugural ceremony of the 44th edition of the festival on Wednesday evening.
The announcement was welcomed by all those who had been advocating a permanent venue for the 11-day event. "We will continue to hold hands with Goa," Tewari said.
, after years of wearing a gypsy cloak and wandering from city to city, finally pitched its tent in Goa's Panaji in 2004, and despite grumblings to the contrary, it has remained firmly rooted in the state.
Though Tewari's speech was loaded with political messages in this election year, it could not take away from the cinematic mood and magic of the evening. The evening culminated in a huge reception thrown by the ministry and the Press Information Bureau.
It seemed like the entire country's cinema fraternity had turned up to cheer 100 years of India's movie industry. The event also had the legendary actor,
, being honoured with the inaugural Centenary Award of the Indian Film Personality of the Year and the Czech master Jiri Menzel receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The event had Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan, Rekha, Rani Mukherjee, Huma Qureshi, Asha Bhosle, Deepti Naval, Suhasini Maniratnam and Victor Banerjee in attendance.
Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon, Iranian director Majid Majidi, Sri Lankan auteur Prasanna Vithanage and Afghan helmer Atiq Rahimi added some international glitter.
The evening got off to a colourful start with a lilting Kathak performance by Birju Maharaj, whose troupe traced through dance and music the golden era of Indian cinema. This was followed by a riveting jugalbandi between Maharaj and sitar maestro Ustad Nishat Khan.