IFFI PARTY TIME…ESG party this year was a grand bash hosted by Vice Chairperson of ESG Mrs Delilah M Lobo (also MLA Siolim Constituency) out at the GTDC Parking grounds at Anjuna on November 28, 2023. It looked like everyone was invited! Including media people who were provided comfy transportation to the distant venue and back to Panaji. A band belted out yesteryear Hindi nostalgia songs, a full moon sailed in the sky above and food and drinks was plentiful and agreeable. Nothing more to ask for till IFFI next year again!
By Tara Narayan
THIS is to share that I have attended many parties in Goa, the best and the worst. After a long time I felt like going for a party night-time, don’t ask me why! The hubby is still re-discovering ways of staying alive at the GMC but spoils me rotten and virtually ordered me to go for this party, since I am in any case seeing some of best films of the world at the International Film Festival of India in capital town Panaji.
Actually, I could make it to very few films this filmi season but whatever I saw was absolutely educative and enchanting (more about the films elsewhere in this edition of goanobserver.in). Anyway, whenever IFFI is in town there are these party rounds every evening to liven up life with various IFFI authorities throwing parties mostly in Panaji – the Entertainment Society of Goa would have its party, the Directorate of Film Festivals (government of India) would have a party, some private cinema producers would throw a party to woo the media. Now the National Film Development Corporation has taken the job of curating films from DFF (dissolved) and I imagine they had a party too…the most coveted invitation is of course the Chief Minister’s party which took place at the Grand Hyatt this year.
Recounting some of my exciting or not so exciting memoirs here during Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s IFFI times, I remember the glossy invitation would come home with the enquiry if we would require transport? Since editors in the old days were not fortunate enough to earn enough money to own car and driver, the hubby would say yes, of course, no transport, don’t expect him to grace the party! But Manohar Parrikar’s last IFFI party on one of his latest favourite bridge, we skipped it maybe because we were not invited, a lot of political scene-scenery had changed by then.
We stopped going to IFFI parties although as a media delegate I attended a few of them if the venue was nearby and some of my friends were going…some of the parties were interesting and worth writing about and I did by way of IFFI trivia, that is in past columns here!
This year it was the ESG’s very savvy, down-to-earth Entertainment Society of Goa’s Vice Chairperson Mrs Delilah M Lobo (also a seasoned politician in her own right of many years in Siolim) who was inviting me “for dinner on the occasion of the 54th International Film Festival of India on Tuesday 28th November 2023, 8.0 pm onwards at GTDC Parking, Anjuna, Goa.” I requested for transportation for the media (which in any case doesn’t have time to see either too many films or attend parties because of the nature of their jobs, most are busy filing stories on IFFI opening and closing days, somebody else may be given the party invites to go enjoy); to my surprise arrangements were made for a tempo bus to take media people out to the Anjuna venue for the ESG party if they wanted to go.
My brief exchanges with Delilah Lobo have been cordial and I thought a woman is inviting me, I must go; how could I ignore her invitation! Like that. Plus, she touched base with media people right from the beginning at her first exchange with them, when she became vice chairperson of IFFI (part of Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s “women power” at IFFI along with Ankita Mishra) – she asked media people what problems she could solve for them and was promptly told media people needed parking space near the scene of action, preferably on the pavement spacing outside the ESG complex, only for media two-wheelers.
So the space was granted and it became easy to come and go from the venue, otherwise media people in the past years were forever hassled looking for parking space and forced to walk more than they liked it, while attending the host of IFFI/PIB press conferences, red carpet events which the iconic and non-iconic stars walked for media coverage!
Clearly, the Siolim MLA is a hands-on woman and I like her, she’s also a more astute politician in comparison to newer women MLAs in the Goa government. This is to say I went to the ESG party in Anjuna, haven’t been out there for a while and was zapped by how much this coastal belt has developed with all kinds of eateries popping up with names like Vindaloo and Nava Ratna and Square Sparrow and Crazy Fish and Where…yes, Where. Must look them up some time.
The spacious Anjuna parking lot was already throbbing with action with Siolim residents (all invited for Madam Delilah’s party), a group was belting out yesteryear Hindi songs from “Ajeeb daastan hai yeh…” to “Heera moti…” to “Sanam mohhabat” and some more ditto songs with the compere waxing lyrically in lovey dovey Urdu about the “mehfil” still to make it into the full moon lit night, there was so much light nobody had time to look at the moon. Bucket plastic chairs were attired in satin white and some dragged chairs away to their table while nobody was watching out – and so on and so forth, a really crowded affair it was.
Whiskey flowed and everybody was drinking out of these eco-friendly decorative paper glasses, half-a-dozen mocktails in glasses circulated and I tried them all, the one with crushed mint and lemon became my favourite, also the blue lemonade. Lots of snacks vegetarian (cheese balls, hara bhara kebabs cone style, crunchies) non-vegetarian grilled meats arrived or were picked up from various food stations.
The dinner queues were long but it was a well-laid out service featuring Zafrani pulao to green peas pulao to plain rice to Thai green curry and chicken curry, enough to choose sensibly. Goa’s repertoire of bread was there of course. I rather liked the potato cafreal, a first time for me with this recipe…and helped myself to the salads from green to Russian to Caesar to garden to Mexican corn to chicken. The sight of salads always make me happy and I hoped the caterer (The Majestic Caterer, cards on every table) has really cleaned them up well.
ESG’S genial hostess with the most charm Delilah Lobo arrived early, greeted everyone and did selfies with whoever came up, checked if they had dinner or not when they came to say farewell to her later on. She was sumptuously attired in some designer dress but I dared not ask her which brand, she is quite a connoisseur of branded goods. All this and much more for a later date! My media friends had a good time and for once I was not bored and bored at the same time – it was not the time to talk to Delilah about no IFFI next year at the old GMC heritage complex, could she please talk it over and do a bit of brainwashing with Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant (who’s an AYUSH doctor himself) about the sensitivity and sensibility of the old GMC complex being put to healthcare usage on a number of counts?
Goans need healthcare first and only after that entertainment – tell all the filmi moneybags to build Goa’s Film City out there where there is so much space at the Kadamba plateau next to the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium where the IFFI opening and closing ceremonies have been taking place these last 20 years of IFFI.
Leave the old GMC in Panaji for healthcare usage for seniors, children, women – the residents of smart capital city in the making Panaji will thank their lucky stars if Delilah M Lobo bats for them in this respect. Otherwise I think Goans should unite to boycott IFFI next year!
Films, no matter they be the best of world cinema, do not and must not come before healthcare, or for that matter even good roads, pavements and all the razzamatazz fairy lighting all over the Campal promenade. How much money we spend on entertainment from the top down and how little on healthcare from the bottoms up where everybody has to work for a decent living, if you know what I mean.
NO matter how much I love IFFI time in Goa with the akaash neem trees blooming over everywhere in town, it would be in order to boot up some primary infrastructure – before all the filmi fraternity from home and America buy up real estate in Goa! Without primary infrastructure in place life is oftentimes hell in paradise, and I should know for I have been residing in Goa for 23 years now. Step out of home and I’m looking for economical, better public transport with better roads, pavements, drainage systems which work when it rains, more friendly gardens for public aam aadmi rest and recreation.
MAYBE this year’s Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievements Award winner, the even more iconic than his father Kirk Douglas of Hollywood films fame, Michael Douglas — this year’s IFFI Lifetime Achievement awardee — would care to support a state-of-the-art Film City in Goa? He and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones seemed quite smitten by modern India’s life and times filmi and non-filmi! Son Dylan confided at a press conference that he has viewed the Shahrukh Khan-Deepika Padukone mega thriller “Om Shanti Om” (2007) Bollywood film umpteen times!
Back home in the US of A Michael Douglas is a very influential man. I wanted to ask him who he would like to be the next president of USA, but didn’t get a chance at the ESG press conference or the In Conversation session which conducted by Sunburn’s hotshot entertainer extraordinary Shailendra Singh — who I’m sorry to say monopolized the Kala Academy stage for the so called In Conversation session most annoyingly on IFFI finale day, that is November 28 of 2023.
Funny or not funny, I skipped the closing IFFI ceremony this year to go partying in Anjuna! Must visit Anjuna in the daytime one of these days, Goa’s beachy reviera places are growing spreading further up north into Maharashtra’s Sawantwadi. Good or bad, I don’t know. We are no longer living in a democracy, but in a dangerous “cleptocracy” where money calls the shots. Some things money must simply not call the shots. Who cares! The people of Goa better care if they love Goa.