Men of trade know a cine festival is in town.
Contractors are supplying the typical Goan sunny yellow in cans to workers; little overbridges on the way to a theatre in Taleigao, the venue of the 46th IFFI opening ceremony, are getting a fresh daub of paint; cabbies are playing the local card and telling tourists to combine a beach trip with cinema-going. And they were not the only one.
Without naming any one, Laxmikant Parsekar, Chief Minister of Goa, attending the festival, made a pitch for Goan film-makers who “make 8-10 films every year which appear in the Indian Panorama section and have won national awards.”
The evening began with his welcome to Arun Jaitley, Union minister, Information and Broadcasting, Finance and Corporate Affairs, governor Mridula Sinha, actor Anil Kapoor the chief guest, and other dignitaries.
Traditional tributes to doyens of world cinema were paid. If Parsekar talked of Satyajit Ray, albeit tripping over the name of Shyam Benegal and Sahir Ludhianvi – Anil Kapoor quoted French auteur Jean Luc Godard whose films he saw during his days as a FTII student.
Reels from old Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikant and Kamal Hassan films were marshalled to show Indian cinema’s range; Shahrukh Khan’s screen-time with Kajol Devgan, Salman Khan’s with Madhuri Dixit also rolled on stage to showcase Bollywood’s flamboyant treatment of love.
Bollywood was the spine of the show. Ayushman Khurana in a tuxedo and pouf anchored the opening ceremony with Aditi Rao Hydari, who gave an etymological twist to the word ‘cinema’ which she said was “cine-ma, the mother of all visual expressions.”
Onstage, Khurana while reminding the audience about the culture of India being similar to the exuberance and holiday culture of Spain – the focus country of IFFI 2015 – cracked up the local audience saying “everyday is a holiday for you guys too.” Mumbai boy and dance artist Terence Lewis also performed on stage with his troupe to Bollywood hits.
The audience had good local presence. Some expressed the desire to see more Goan representation on stage and in Indian mainstream cinema. “Mumbai has a film industry. But the environment to create support of Konkani films is absent in Goa. The Konkani voice is missing. IFFI is in Goa, but we don’t see Goa here,” says Manasvani Prabhure, a social researcher in the audience.
The 10-day festival (20-30 November) will screen 187 movies in the World Cinema section; the Indian Panorama section screens 47. Mathew Brown’s film on Indian mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity,’ is the opening film of the festival with Dev Patel playing Ramanujan. Israeli auteur Amos Gitai is expected to attend the festival. ‘Court’, India’s Oscar entry, a film by director Chaitanya Tamhane is to be screened at the festival.