“Amitabh Bachchan is popular across the country, but Shah Rukh Khan is the most popular icon of India among the nation’s new generation,” Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, information and broadcasting minister, said in his official address at the inaugural of the 38th International Film Festival of India, in Goa’s Kala Academy on Friday evening.
The minister asserted full throttle that Shah Rukh had inspired young sports people with his portrayal of a coach in Chak De! India. He hoped that the actor would encourage young football players of India by attending their matches too.
Tamil actress Priyamani with Shah Rukh lit the IFFI’s traditional lamp. In his address, the actor was his characteristic witty self, alluding tongue in cheek to the recent controversy that he had been attending cricket matches to promote his film. Besides Shah Rukh, there was no presence of the Bollywood star brigade.
Marta Meszaros, the Hungarian director heading the festival’s competition jury, seemed bemused with the pandemonium of TV crews blocking her view of the stage.
Architect Charles Correa and filmmaker Joy Augustin were some of the Goa-kars present at the event. Mario Miranda was represented by cut-outs of his much-loved cartoons.
Chief Minister Digambar Kamat announced that from now on Goa would be the permanent venue of IFFI. Goa is hosting the country’s premier film event for the fourth time in a row. Protests were raised by some delegates from the back rows, but that did not obstruct the flow of the evening’s rat-a-tat volley announcements.
There has been constant debate on whether IFFI should return to its traditional venue, the Siri Fort in New Delhi.
Dasmunsi confirmed the chief minister’s announcement, stating firmly, “Despite criticism from some quarters, there can be no better venue for IIFI than Goa.” He urged the chief minister to build a bigger convention hall to accommodate the swelling crowds.
Another unexpected flourish came from Dasmunsi. By the end of the year, the I&B Ministry will present Special Lifetime Achievement Awards to Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.
Artistes from other film disciplines like cinematography and script writing are also being finalised. In effect, these honours will be in addition to the already bestowed Dadasaheb Phalke Awards.