IFFI ONCE AGAIN! The Good, Bad & Ugly…

 

By Tara Narayan

IT’S IFFI time in Goa and Panaji once again and it’s a funny, familiar story! Just a fortnight before the 48th (14th in Goa) International Film Festival of Goa (IFFI) comes to capital city, Panaji powers-that-be get into action mode. The PWD guys can be seen busy painting traffic circles and pavement sides white and black and re-painting the benches… but come to think of it, perhaps the CCP guys should remove the dusty litter heaps lying around here and there, just waiting for a breeze to fly into all the new brushwork to turn it tacky looking anew!

Common-sense somehow never plays a role when priorities are pushed like cleaning up the main thoroughfare of Panaji because IFFI is on its way (this year from Nov 20 to 28, 2017). Funny, the road itself continues to be a bumpety bump affair, leaving a lot to be desired. And what gutters are still there, they’re packed with kachrapatti… God forbid that a sudden post-monsoon thunder storm visits Panaji while IFFI is on!

Not too long ago the entire Campal promenade (now re-named Dayanand Bandodkar Marg after the first chief minister of Goa) from the Panaji Jetty to Miramar beach  was a generously broad cool green avenue of grand trees, but the years of shoddy maintenance has reduced it to merely functional use.

Most Ponjekars continue to love the Campal promenade good, bad or ugly, lined as it is with gardens big and small and would appreciate it if it got VIP treatment all the year around instead of a fortnight before IFFI! Also, the IFFI clean-up is done in such jhat-pat style, that you know it’ll be back to the square one of lazy sussegad once the magic word of IFFI has passed. Till next year again, same time, same venue and residents will be treated to the same not-so-funny familiar scenes and scenarios of cosmetically dressing up Panaji for its most glamorous event.

Many say the time for the government to sponsor gala film festivals is over. Quite simply because the cinema has come home, courtesy the march and race of technology to make our lives easy and easier. The smart young generation has no time to waste in cinema halls and prefer to catch up with education and social life on their hi fi phone sets. In big cities well-to-do homes sport special large LED screens and family, extended family, neighbours and friends gather for a chat, bite and a film or two late into the night.

Many say IFFI should have come to Goa long ago! What’s  the point of rejuvenating it here in Goa when the entire habit of cinema-viewing has changed? Nevertheless in 2004 the powers-that-be at the Centre thought Delhi was becoming uncomfortable with delegates, both foreign and domestic, crowding in for the country’s premier red-carpet event. After a few unsavoury incidents which brought undesirable international publicity, it was time to move it out somewhere where it was not so visible! The holiday state of Goa was perfect with its cosmopolitan ambience and culture. Plus, Goa has innumerable five and seven-star properties for visiting celebrities from home and abroad to feel comfortable.

So Panaji in Goa became the ultimate “Hollywood” in the making, courtesy the then and current Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. Several Indian filmstars have second homes in Goa and the real estate industry continues to turn Goa into a concrete jungle in the years to come.

IFFI means films, filmmaking, more film actors and stars, and an ever growing number of movie fans in Goa. There’s one serious matter of concern: Goa does not have the primary infrastructure of excellent roads or quick public transportation or even an assurance of decent accommodation for small budget filmgoers who make up the majority of IFFI delegates.

With IFFI delegation fees going up to `1,000 and over, the number of delegates has fallen and the first flush of enthusiasm of seeing films at IFFI in Goa has petered down. IFFI doesn’t see more than 10,000 delegates any more although figures can always be inflated by counting up tourists who come for a pass to catch a film or two,  and of course there’re the freebie VIP and VVIP passes for political families.

Advocate Aires Rodrigues has a point when he says, “In 2004 the then chief minister Manohar Parrikar took a catastrophic disservice by consenting to host IFFI in Panaji. Over the last 14 years it has been an annual nightmare faced by Goans, it has not benefitted the state but only offers a window of opportunity for politicians to rake in huge moolah with substandard works hurriedly carried out to superficially deck the city. Even minor contracts of the event have not been entrusted to locals.  With its crumbling infrastructure Panaji is already a very congested city and the traffic chaos on account of IFFI is something it can do without. With fun and frolic at tax-payers expense, IFFI  has only further burdened the cash-starved state, besides the extra pile up of tons of garbage IFFI generates and the Municipal authorities have to grapple with.”

He says, the common man also suffers as the day-to-day government administration also comes to a halt with officials preoccupied with the IFFI fiesta. Aires calls IFFI the “international fraud festival of India” and concludes it is time to bid it a farewell and free Goa from this unwelcome extravaganza!

Well, that’s one view. All the above notwithstanding many others view IFFI as an education of the very best kind for Goans who are already a theatrical and creative people. Hopefully, in the long run a younger generation of Goans find opportunities and careers in the art and craft of filmmaking in its myriad aspects and become familiar with the latest technology. With the rest of the film industry from the country and world over taking a working break in Goa, it holds out a fantastic platform for learning on a larger scale…  both for those who want to express themselves through cinema and those who find viewing films the most rewarding pass-time of them all.

Like it or not IFFI is here to stay. Make the most of it or go into hiding for the eight days it is in town!

IT’S SHAHRUKH KHAN & AMITABH BACHCHAN!

IT’S clear now that the evergreen “Dil to pagal hai” star of contemporary Hindi cinema Sharukh Khan will be inaugurating this year’s 48th International Film Festival of India  in Panaji on Monday, Nov 20, 2017. While perennial mega star, Kaun Banega Crorepati host, Gujarat ambassador extraordinary and man of many social causes Amitabh Bachchan will be felicitated for a lifetime of achievements. According to the latest IFFI updates, Amitabh Bachchan is going to be felicitated as “Indian Film Personality of the Year” at the concluding ceremony of IFFI at the Dr Shyama Pasad Mukherjee Stadium on Nov 28. The audience will also be treated to a special audio-video presentation on the occasion and reportedly the entire Bachchan parivar will be present at the concluding IFFI event. Last year this award had gone to South Indian singer S P Balasubramaniam.

48th IFFI HIGHLIGHTS

IFFI 2017 will open with Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s first film made in India, `Beyond the Clouds’, and conclude with Argentinian filmmakaker Pablo Cesar’s Indo-Argentinean film `Thinking of Him’… IFFI this year offers the usual bouquet of films both in the Indian Panorama and Cinema of the World.

Vinod Kapri’s Hindi film Pihu opens the Indian Panorama of 26 films. There’s a Konkani film and five mainstream Indian films including the commercial blockbuster Baahubali-2: the Conclusion. Amongst the films to be screened look out for Miransha Naik’s Konkani film Juze (selected from 153 eligible entries in this section, the film won a special jury award at Minsk Film Festival Belarus in Youth on the March section). Hindi films include Jolly LL.B-2 and Poorna, Bengali film Meghnad Bodh Rahasya and Marathi film Ventilator in the mainstream section.

Marathi films are going places and seven films have been scheduled for screening. Kaasav won much praise at the 64th National Film Awards, the other six films are Kshitij, Kachcha Limbu, Muramba Pimpal, Maza Bhirbhira, Redu and Idak (all chosen by jury chief Sujoy Ghosh of film Kalyani fame). There are four Hindi films, two each in Bengali and Assamese and one each in Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Oriya, in the Indian Panorama which always attracts a large regional film viewing audience from the south.

After Indian Panorama comes Cinema of the World section which showcases the best of world cinema made in the past year; there is a curated section of seven films that have won BRICS Film Awards this year; the country of focus is Canada and eight films will be screened…for the Biennale College cinema there are four films from the Venice International Film Festival. Not to forget restored classics of world cinema and a retrospective of James Bond films, this celebrates more than 50 years of Bond movies and nine of the best Bond films have been selected for screening.

The Entertainment Society of Goa which hosts IFFI along with the Government of Goa has a special section this year to premier films produced by Goan film producers in feature and non-feature film sections. Also, in the non-feature films section watch out for Hindi film Pushkar Puran directed by Kamal Swaroop and Fireflies in the Abyss directed by Chandrasekhar Reddy which has won the 64th National Film Awards and has been included in the Indian Panorama.

For film-lovers it’s undoubtedly IFFI time again come  Monday, Nov 20, 2017, at the various venues of INOX, Kala Academy, Macquinez Palace, a specially created Bioscope dedicated to New Age Cinema at the Campal promenade cornice opposite GMC…here four inflatable air-conditioned auditoriums are being set up for films screening open even to non-delegates.

`Nude’ & `S Durga’ dropped from IFFI

A LOT of nasty questions are doing the rounds regarding the two last minute dropped films – Sanal Sasidharan’s `Sexy Durga’ (Malayalam) and Ravi Jadhav’s `Nude’ (Marathi) from the 48th International Film Festival of India. Even selection committee members have no clue to why the films were dropped at the last moment because of their provocative titles…nobody’s blaming anybody but the decision was taken after a consultation between NFDC, DFF and the I & B Ministry.

Apparently, the reason being given is that we are living in volatile times and volatile films have no place in international film festivals like IFFI! Indian Panorama jury chief Sujoy Ghosh has resigned to protest against the arbitrary dropping of the films without consultation with the jury panel. He says the I & B Ministry should have consulted jury members before taking the decision.

 

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