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Premieres save the day for IFFI

No festival can do without glamour. It is a happy augury that IFFI organisers have begun to make amends by roping in the Indian stars at their films' premieres, says Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2003 15:22 IST
Saibal Chatterjee
Saibal Chatterjee

A hitherto lacklustre 34th International Film Festival of India sprang to a semblance of life on Sunday evening. The catalyst was the premiere of music composer-turned-director Vishal Bhardwaj's second feature film, Maqbool.

As festival director Neelam Kapur pointed out, this is the first year that IFFI has embraced the concept of premieres. The move is clearly paying dividends. Two down, one more to go and Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) officials have reason to be elated.

The Sunday evening screening of the fresh-off-the-oven Maqbool was the first time since the inaugural ceremony on October 9 that the main Siri Fort Auditorium was packed to capacity. The presence of the film's three principal actors (Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Pankaj Kapur), who were joined on the stage by director Bhardwaj, producer Bobby Bedi scriptwriter Abbas Tyrewala and cinematographer Hemant Chaturvedi, may have helped matters but the film itself had enough going for it to arouse curiosity.

IFFI 2003 had premiered Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Pinjar on the opening night. It was the first formal screening of the film and it added immensely to the profile of the festival. Three popular Mumbai movie stars - Manoj Bajpai, Urmila Matondkar and Sanjay Suri - put in an appearance and the audience went home happy.

It should by now be as clear as daylight even to an old school purist that no festival can do without a dose of glamour. That is one area that the organisers of IFFI have neglected at their own peril over the years. It is a happy augury that they have finally begun to make amends by seeking to rope in the stars by organizing premieres on brand new Indian films.

Te DFF is probably saving the best for the last this time around. Urmila was the first to liven up things, Tabu came in next and on the cards now is Aishwarya Rai. On the last day of the 34th IFFI - October 19 - the festival screens Rituparno Ghosh's Chokher Bali as part of a special programme. It is not being billed as a premiere because the film has already been commercially released in West Bengal.

Aishwarya, currently shooting Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice in the UK, is expected to fly in after wrapping up her work on October 18. A buzz has already begun to rise and requests for complimentary passes for the Sunday morning screening of Chokher Bali are mounting. The DFF certainly isn't complaining. Its "premiere" ploy has given people something to talk about.

First Published: Oct 14, 2003 14:19 IST