The 40th edition of the International Film Festival of India, to unroll on November 23 at Panaji, has kicked off yet another controversy. ome days ago eye brows were raised because Amitabh Bachchan hasn't been invited to the festival.
And now, the Festival’s Director, S.M. Khan, was quoted in a daily as having said that “the entry of the Malayalam movie, ’Pazzasiraja’, starring Mammootty, into the Indian Panorama (section of the Festival) was under the consideration of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting”. The Festival is organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, a wing of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
A seven-member jury, chaired by filmmaker-fashion designer Muzaffar Ali, recently chose 26 movies for the Indian Panorama, which was originally envisaged to showcase the cream of the country’s cinema in all its lingual, cultural diversity, and also to discover talent. The maximum number of films that the Panorama can have is 26.
Given this, one is left wondering how “Pazzasiraja” could even be considered for inclusion. And, will this not negate the importance of the jury? If at all, the Ministry had to add to the list – which in this case might mean removing one of the Panorama entries – why at all have a jury, host it for well over two weeks in Delhi and screen a 100-odd pictures (as was the case this year) – all at the taxpayers cost?
A greater risk in trying to keep the Panorama section open after the jury had discussed, deliberated, finalised, signed and sealed the list is that it may lead to other directors/producers wanting their movies to be part of the Panorama after the jury’s verdict. This can set off an unhealthy trend in the coming years.
It would be imperative for the Directorate to put an end to this kind of uncertainty, and let it be known that the jury’s decision is the last word. This is the norm the world over, and with the Festival long nursing a dream of being another Cannes or Venice, the jury’s decree must be honoured in its letter and spirit.