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Kareena, Urmila lead IFFI's glamour show

Kareena Kapoor will not be the sole Mumbai movie star on view when the curtain goes up on the IFFI 2003. Urmila, Isha Koppikar and Sandali Sinha are also expected to boost the annual event's generally low glamour quotient says Saibal Chatterjee

india Updated: Oct 18, 2003 16:58 IST

Kareena Kapoor, the ceremonial lamp girl, will not be the sole Mumbai movie star on view at the cavernous Siri Fort Auditorium on Thursday evening when the curtain goes up on the 34th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The likes of Urmila Matondkar, Isha Koppikar and Sandali Sinha are also expected to boost the annual event's generally low glamour quotient.

Urmila, Isha and Sandali have good reason to be there - the three ladies have important roles in Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Pinjar, the opening film of IFFI 2003. They will be joined by other members of the film's cast and crew, including director Dwivedi, actors Manoj Bajpai and Sanjay Suri, lyricist Gulzar and music director Uttam Singh, in a special presentation ceremony after the festival is formally declared open.

The choice of Pinjar as the opening film is indeed a bold step. While mainstream Bollywood has never been far away from the thick of the IFFI action in recent years, never before has a star-studded Mumbai film been accorded the singular honour. In fact, no Indian entry has earned the status of opening film since Shyam Benegal's Mammo in the early 1990s.

Most major festivals around the world, including the 'Big Three' (Cannes, Berlin and Venice), generally open with homegrown films. But IFFI has for years had a tradition of opting for a foreign entry as the opening film. Pinjar has perhaps broken that tradition for good.

Dwivedi's film, based on Amrita Pritam's celebrated Partition saga about the ultimate triumph of a traumatised woman's spirit over trying circumstances, came into the IFFI frame pretty late in the day. By Dwivedi's own admission, Pinjar isn't "typical Bollywood fare". Its choice as the opening film of the 34th IFFI is, therefore, a shot in the arm for its producers, Lucky Star's Entertainment, a production house promoted by the Oswal group of companies. Aruna Oswal and her son, Indipop crooner Shail, will be present during the opening night ceremony.

After Rituparno Ghosh's Chokher Bali dropped out of the reckoning following the director's decision to send the film to the Competition section of the Locarno Film Festival, besides releasing it commercially a week ahead of IFFI, the Directorate of Film Festivals homed in on Pinjar.

Another Bollywood film that has earned pride of place in the main IFFI line-up this year is Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool, a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Bhardwaj, whose previous film, Makdee, is in the Indian Panorama section, will represent Maqbool at the festival along with Tabu, Pankaj Kapur and Irfan Khan.

IFFI will certainly be poorer in the glamour sweepstakes without a dash of Ash on opening night. But Kareena and Urmila certainly aren't inadequate recompense.

First Published: Oct 10, 2003 10:11 IST