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IFFI’s red carpet circus

One of the most comic sights at the ongoing International Film Festival of India here is the Red Carpet tamasha every evening. Unlike the Red Carpet at Cannes or Venice or Berlin, Goa’s produces the loudest giggles. Read on for details.

entertainment Updated: Nov 28, 2009 15:50 IST

One of the most comic sights at the ongoing International Film Festival of India here is the Red Carpet tamasha every evening. Unlike the Red Carpet at Cannes or Venice or Berlin, Goa’s produces the loudest giggles. With men in red uniforms playing their drums and trumpets at ear-shattering decibels and walking on the Carpet followed by the stars of the day, the spectacle resembles a marriage procession. Invariably, the circus takes places several times in the evening. Often, Festival Director S.M. Khan is part of this.

Sadly, the tendency to ape the West has been our undoing. While Satyajit Ray was prudent enough to learn the craft from Hollywood but use it to tell his own stories in his own land and in his own unique ways, Bollywood has been often lifting ideas and stories -- sometimes frames -- from Hollywood or European cinema. Indian actors and Indian situations were just about what could be called Indian in such Bollywood fare. Movies from Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Karnataka and even Kerala brazenly copied Bollywood, perfecting the art of copying the copies. Who cared if the copies were disasters? In a heavily populated nation like India where cinema is still the cheapest form of entertainment, such films found a ready market.

However, in the case of IFFI, it may not be as simple as all that. For, its audiences are generally cinema literate and are capable of seeing through the bluff. IFFI’s Red Carpet has been panned and ridiculed by most people I spoke to in the course of the past few days. One student delegate described it as an “eyesore”.

But there was one actor who was disappointed that he could not walk the Red Carpet. Sharath Babu (with films such as Mullum Malarum, Nenjathai Killathe and Sagara Sangamam to his credit), who performs in one of the Indian Panorama entries, Shankara Punyakoti, found himself high and dry after being told by the organizing Directorate of Film Festivals that he would be welcomed on the Red Carpet. He quips: “Why invite us if the organizers feel we are not important”. He however hoped that such incidents would not reflect poorly on the host Goans. “They are lovely people”, he added.

Bengali director Raja Mitra, who was part of the Indian Panorama Features Jury 2009, also found himself at a somewhat similar predicament. Security men refused to let him in for the inauguration of the Indian Panorama, and finally one of the Directorate’s officials had to whisk in an agitated Mitra. He was later presented on the stage along with the Chairman of the Jury, Muzaffar Ali, and members, Bobby Bedi and Leslie Carvalho.

Earlier on in the Festival, Kalashetra Director Leela Samson and her troupe, who were to perform on the opening night, found themselves stranded at the Goa airport with none to receive them. They reached their hotel on their own with nobody from the Directorate or its partner, Entertainment Society of Goa, having shown up.