The opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India in Goa did not deviate from, what has become, a familiar script at this annual affair.
There were delayed speeches, technical glitches, a predominance of Hinglish and a surfeit of Bollywood. Adding to these was confusion triggered by security checks at the festival venue.
Overhead clouds threatened rain throughout the evening, till it drizzled on the packed gathering at 7.30 pm. And the earth made damp from showers seemed to only reflect the damp show on stage.
Even the stage, decked up as if for a film awards ceremony, and the presence of the stars from all the four regional Indian zones could not lift spirits. Plastic palm trees, a mock-up of a ship, bright lights competed with the bright stage, still being painted minutes before the chief guests occupied their seats.
Shashi Kapoor was the guest of honour. Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi said he represented the "entire Kapoor family who are a treasure for India and the global film fraternity."
More heartening for the film industry was his admission that "the government does not give any thing to the film industry but the industry gives a lot to the government in terms of revenue."
He said five core groups had been set up "to give new direction and dimension to the industry in terms of taxation, film festivals, piracy, exports and duties."
Dasmunsi also said by next year the government would support the National Film Development Corporation "to cater to and lift filmmakers".
"The core group is expected to give its report by January-end and hopefully before the next budget we should be able to finalise this policy," he said.
Also present were Goan Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, Governor SC Jamir and chief guests Anil Kapoor, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Venkatesh, Film Federation of India president, Boney Kapoor and Directorate of Film Festivals, Director, VB Pyarelal.
Actress Vidya Balan lit the inaugural lamp. Meanwhile, serpentine queues were checked before being allowed for the screening of the opening film, Pedro Almodovar's Volver (Spain).
The film festival will continue till December 3. Hopefully, the opening event was an aberration and the 37th International Film Festival of India will be smooth without the numerous technical snafus witnessed on Thursday night at the Campal football ground.
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