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The last tango in Goa?

entertainment Updated: Nov 03, 2007 19:01 IST
Khalid Mohamed
Khalid Mohamed
Hindustan Times
Khalid Mohamed

Notes on the 38th IFFI, opening on November 23
Cast: Rajnikant or Dharmendra to be chief guest (suspense), guest appearances by Manmohan Shetty, Amit Khanna, Yash Chopra, Sudhir Mishra, Kumar Mangat, Ketan and Deepa Mehta, Jabbar Patel, Ronnie Screwvalla
Direction: Neelam Kapoor, directorate of films festivals, I and B Ministry
Rating: To be factored on December 3, after closing ceremony

The feni-`n’-games are on schedule. Despite thunder claps that Goa would not be the venue for the great big film festival any more, it is.

From November 23 the beach land will be the host-with-the-most for the ten-day-long 38th International Film Festival of India – called IIFI by friends, well-wishers and relatives.

So what was the snafu anyway? The relocation of the annual event from the red-scotch-taped New Delhi to chilled-out Goa was taken nearly half a decade ago, after much hair-and-hippy splitting by the Union ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Many eminent filmmakers – including Shyam Benegal --felt that chaos and confusion were endemic at the fest in the capital. Goa would be sunny, it could be an ideal spot for overseas delegates to gambol in Bermudas and bikinis. And glory be, nephews of minister’s third aunts wouldn’t be tripping over themselves to catch that Polish movie with the geyser-hot scenes.

For all that talk about to access to Internet porn, there’s nothing like er, a bodyroom scene in 35 mm, watched with 1,000 others. Talk of group sex.<b1>

In principle, the shift from Delhi to Goa made sense. But now, the snoop squad in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, is leaking info that the fourth consecutive fest in Goa could well be its last one – if the state co-organisers and the Entertainment Society of God don’t pull up their socks. Well.. who needs hosiery on the beach anyway?

With all its pros and cons, the Delhi-to-Goa shift has registered some gains: no more nephews-of-ministers’-aunts, no bureaucratic no-no’s, no winter to freeze your innards.

But come to think of it, most film festivalgoers have missed displaying their camphor-scented woolies at the Siri Fort lawns over steaming tomato soup. The rescheduling of the fest from Delhi in December-end to Goa in November-end, has evoked mixed feelings.

How about some gaffe spotting?

The December to November shift was also calculated to entice better entries, many more delegates, and of course, the crème de la crème from the international prize winners at Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Bora Bora, and even Fukuoka, which incidentally is a Japanese town and film festival.

Neither the entries nor the quantity or quality of delegates have improved. Even the regular-as-rain British critic Derek Malcolm has quit attending.

In addition, there have mega-gaffes like last year’s official brochure printing a picture of the cherubic filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli in lieu of the deceased Kannada cinema legend Dr Raj Kumar. <b2>

For those who think of a glass as half full, Goa promises to be a rocking fest. Those who think of a glass as half empty, are already prepared that the Bollywood star quotient will be on the lower side (seriousness doesn’t equal a Bipasha Basu bidi romp on stage, like it did last year).

The Directorate of Film Festivals, led by Neelam Kapoor, will be in command. Just some three months ago, it was being conjectured that the directorate would be wound up and the festival handed over to “more competent hands” from the film industry in Bombay. Sorry, Pahlaj Nihalani and Co.

Indeed, it seems to be some sort of an

agni pariksha

this year. Whoever crosses the line – be it the directorate or the Goa co-organisers – will be out. May the best festival impressario win.

Now about the movies

The Indian Panorama entries have been announced. Samir Chanda’s Ek Nadia Galpo (Bengali) and Lenin Rajendran’s Night Rain (Malayalam) have been picked from the 21 selected films to compete for the Golden Peacock Award.

Only Latin American, Asian and African movies are in competition. Strange. Does this mean that if American and European cinema were eligible, they would walk away with our national bird?

Only two Hindi films have made it to the Panorama – Dharm (no Eklavya, sob) and Sameer Hanchate’s Gafla. The ubiquitous Bengal director Buddhadeb Das Gupta will be at Goa’s Inox environs with a feature film as well as a documentary on Naushad saab. Interesting, interesting.

By the way, a documentary on Mubarak Begum features, too, directed by Bipin Choubal. Adoor Gopalakrishnan will be the man to catch, toast (he drinks beer only) and hug for his new film and a documentary entitled The Dancing Enchantress.

There hasn’t been a half a word on the world cinema expected. But yes, sources who think they are guarding nuclear secrets reveal that a retrospective of Ingmar Bergman and a section devoted to Hungarian cinema are on the cards. Tributes will be paid at Goa to music legend O P Nayyar, camera genius K K Mahajan and the charismatic Marathi actress Vanmala, who passed away this year.

It’s believed that a collection of films by Senegal’s politically volatile director, Ousman Sembene, was offered on a platter but was rejected by the directorate. Oh oh, as every film fest freak would exclaim, “There we go again.”