SUPARI: There may not have been supari at the 48th IFFI parties but there were more than 60 varieties of paan all the way from Kolhapur
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the 48th edition of the International Film Festival ended on a sour note. For a Saturday following the week when it look as though the underworld had given supari for the murder of all the politicians and film stars. For a Saturday following the week when the ESG saved a lot of money by legally or illegally holding parties in public places. For a Saturday following the week when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) cracked the whip against the thousands of illegal structures built within the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). For a Saturday following the week when both Aires Rodrigues, and the lady he is alleged to have defamed, filed complaints against each other. For a Saturday following the week when Ponjikars were dreading the prospect of two more bridges over the river Mandovi.
AND a few stray thoughts on the 48th edition of IFFI ending on a sour note. Despite directions from the Kerala High Court, IFFI authorities refused to screen ‘Sexy Durga’, the award-winning film made by SK Sasidharan which has won many awards abroad. ‘Sexy Durga’ along with ‘Nude’ was among films chosen by the jury appointed for the Indian Panorama section of IFFI. Though the jury voted 7:4 in favour of including both the films in the Indian Panorama section they were dropped on the insistence of the Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani. Maybe she was jealous that nobody has made a film called ‘Sexy Smriti’!
‘Sexy Durga’ had been approved by the Trivandrum branch of the Central Censor Board. The Board had only ask the producers to change the name to ‘S Durga’ and cut off a few vulgar sound bites. The producer of the film was not informed by the NFDC (which has been conducting IFFI this year) that the film had been dropped. The producer was not given any reason for dropping the film. When the producers threatened to file a contempt petition against IFFI, Irani directed the new jury of the Indian Panorama section headed by a chamcha film actor and producer Rahul Rawail to see the film. After the screening of ‘Sexy Durga’ the new chairman refused to make any comment claiming it was sub-judice — which it was not because the court had already decided on the issue.
The latest excuse offered by Irani is that in the script submitted to IFFI the prefix ‘Sexy’ had not been fully changed to ‘S’ but instead the title showed ‘S’ followed by several Xs. the argument of the IFFI organisers is that the producers had cheated IFFI. The Malayalis were not very happy and the producers and the main actor staged a silent protest outside INOX. It is some consolation to Mollywood that the Malayali film ‘Kshitij’ won the ICFT Unesco Gandhi award, “Take Off” won the Special Jury Award and actress Parvathy T.K won the Best Actress award for her role in ‘Take Off’. This is the first time an Indian actress won the best actress award at IFFI, at least since it came to Goa.
AND a few stray thoughts when IFFI 48th gave the impression that the organisers had given a supari on the visiting dignitaries and delegates. Supari is the expression used in Mumbai for contracts given by the underworld. It is also the main ingredient of paan. Though there are a lot of people in the film industry who eat paan they do not like to serve it at functions because of its association with supari. Many Hindi stars and music producers have been killed on supari by the Dawood Ibrahim gang.
We seldom see paan in Goa except may be in a few 5-star hotels. Goans are not a paan eating people. With exceptions like some Saraswat Hindus including Manohar Parrikar who switched from smoking to chewing tobacco in paan. Moreover it being an international film festival it seemed odd to have 60+ varieties of paan on offer at every IFFI party starting with the first party hosted by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Panjim Gymkhana after he was pataud by SRK.
In the normal course after dinner at a party one goes looking for desserts. In the parties organised by the ESG the main attraction was not desserts but paan. There were, believe it or not, 60 varieties of paan all imported from Kolhapur. You could get any filling you want from chocolate to badam to the entire range of dry fruits. SRK is reported to have eaten four of them and packed some but hopefully did not give it to his kid. I must admit that the paan looks very attractive even for somebody like me who has never touched a paan in my life. The better half feasted on them. And because she had taken more than she could swallow handed over the extra paan she had to a policeman on duty outside Green Acres, where the ESG party was held.
I thought at least the governor will have objected as paan is not consistent with swacch bharat. If you eat paan you have to spit out the fillings — which is why you see red marks in every government building and every bus stand in the country.
Perhaps the governor because she is originally from Bihar is also a great fan of paan. Bihar’s Lalu Prasad is also a brand ambassador of paan. And considering Amitabh Bachchan received a life time award at the closing ceremony and Sidharth Malhotra danced to the famous paan banaras wala song, it was perhaps appropriate to have paan at the party venues.
I am told that the paandan which included 60+ paan was available at the first party after the opening ceremony at the Panjim Gymkhana and the last party which was held at Kala Academy itself. Which makes me wonder whether it is legal to hold dinner parties on a massive scale where darru flows along with paan at public places particularly at the Kala Academy. But if the BJP can have public receptions for Amit Shah at the airport I suppose they can do anything they want.
AND a few stray thoughts on Aires Rodrigues, the social activist lawyer, and the lady whom he is alleged to have defamed, filing mutual complaints against each other. It was of course Aires who started the ball rolling with a Facebook post showing someone looking like the lady along with Minister for Water Resources Vinod Palyekar in a compromising position. Not surprisingly both the minister and the lady, who was incidentally married, were very upset. The lady filed a complaint against Aires Rodrigues accusing him of outraging her modesty. The complaint charges him with circulating an allegedly fake video of the minister with the lady from Siolim. Aires is also alleged to have circulated a photograph on WhatsApp. Police have been quick to register a complaint under sections 354(A) (sexual harassment), 500 (defamation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a women).
Aires on his part has filed a complaint of assault against the lady and a group of persons who confronted him in his office at 8:30 am in the morning. Aires has accused the minister of having instigated the attack on him. He claims that the DG Muktesh Chandra has promised to investigate the matter.
AND a few stray thoughts on the fifth bridge across the Mandovi River. At the moment there are two bridges across the Mandovi river. Parrikar started the work on the third bridge in 2007 before he went away to Delhi as defence minister. The bridge being constructed by L & T, one of the biggest engineering companies, is expected to connect Porvorim to the Kadamba plateau and to the Santa Cruz highway leading to Salcete. The bridge has been making news for the wrong reasons. A huge crane which was being used to build the bridge fell into the river, though fortunately it did not cause any injury. There have been many questions about the need of the third bridge over the Mandovi. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has been insisting it will reduce the load on the two existing bridges. However until the bridge is complete it is a terrible time for people who want to travel between Porvorim and Panjim.
There was an accident in the crowded River Mandovi, which has more casinos and barges than water. The presence of the casinos (which are stationary) in the river affects the water currents. As the result, a ferry plying between Betim and Panjim drifted dangerously towards Campal. While the pedestrians were rescued by a tourist boat, those who had vehicles in the ferry refused to leave the boat as they were afraid that their bikes and cars would be stolen. It took almost four hours or more to bring the ferry back to the jetty. This prompted Parrikar’s primary chamcha, Sidharth Kuncalienker, who must have caught the infection of building bridges to suggest building a pedestrian bridge between Betim and Panjim.
Since not much money can be made on just a bridge for people, Sudin Dhavalikar, the PWD minister, expanded the idea and suggested a full-fledged bridge which can also be used by vehicles. The idea seems to have been accepted by Parrikar. In addition to this fourth bridge there will be a fifth bridge. This will take a form of a rope way between the Reis Magos Fort and the Kala Academy Jetty. So at the end of the day there will be five bridges across the Mandovi.
Why are politicians so fond of bridges? There is a story about an Indian minister visiting a governor in the United States. According to the story, the governor takes him to his river-side bungalow. The Indian minister, very impressed with the huge grand bungalow, and knowing that the governor was not very rich, asks the governor how he managed it. The governor points to a bridge across the river and says “50%”. Seeing the confusion on the minister’s face he explains that 50% of the cost of the bridge was diverted to build the house.
In turn the Indian minister invites the American governor to his home state of UP. He takes the governor to his home on the banks of the Ganges. His home is much larger and more magnificent than that of the Governor. It is almost 20 storeys tall like Antilia (Mukesh Ambani’s grand home in Mumbai). The governor winks at the minister and asks him how he did it. The minister points to the river. The governor looks at the river but cannot see a bridge there. He turns to the minister pointing out that there is no bridge across the river. The Indian minister smiles and says, “100%.”
AND a few stray thoughts on the NGT ordering the scrapping of all projects which have come up illegally within the CRZ. Under CRZ rules there can be no construction within 200 metres of the beach or 100 metres from the river. This includes backwaters like in Ribandar and Merces. Over the years a very large number of bungalows and even huge hotels have come up within 200 metres of the high tide line within the CRZ. In fact the Supreme Court had ordered the demolishing of large parts of Cidade-de-Goa because it have been built illegally within the CRZ. The then chief minister, Digambar Kamat, came to the rescue of the Fomento Group by giving retrospective permission, as he did in the case of mining leases for which cases are going on against him. The decision of Digambar in the Cidade case has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
The biggest culprit is the former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar. There are more than 50 resorts and hotels in the Morjim-Arambol beach belt. All of them are illegal, as admitted by Parsekar himself. Many of them are owned by the Russian mafia. The sign boards in the hotels and restaurants and even the menus are in Russian. Allegedly there are rave parties held in these resorts throughout the year. Among the more famous resorts, two are owned by a descendent of Shivaji, and one by the daughter of Deshprabhu, so-called Count of Pernem. These resorts are also notorious for sale, consumption, and transmission of drugs, but Parsekar has defended them claiming that they provide employment for the locals.
During every assembly session there used to be a question on illegal structure built within the CRZ. The same structures (which were more than 1000 all over Goa) appeared in the answers to the questions. Now if the NGT insists, the government will have to demolish all the structures within CRZ, which includes a big building coming up in Aivon village which is supposed to belong to smuggler Sukh Narayan Bhakiya who escaped from Aguada Jail by jumping over the fence.
AND a last stray thought on Zuari Agro which completed its 50th anniversary and is now part of Adventz Companies. The company was set up during the chief ministership of Dayanand Badodkar, the first chief minister, who gave the Birlas a huge amount of land where they could have built 10 factories. The company was set up to manufacture fertilisers and pesticides. It was shut down by Shashikala Kakodkar, who followed her father as chief minister, as the processes used a poison called arsenic. It was re-opened after the company changed the raw materials. There was a threat that the government may take back the unused land from Zuari. Which was good for Goa as this led to the setting up of the Goa complex of the Birla Institute of Technology.
There is still so much land that Zuari wants to expand but is awaiting permission from the government. Zuari is the largest employer in the private sector allowing for the fact that the majority of its workers are on contract. Indeed it is the contract workers of Zuari who created the huge slum Zuari Nagar. Zuari Agro, now controlled by the Aditya Birla branch of the Birla family, need to do more in terms of corporate social responsibility.