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Govind Nihalani to get Lifetime Achievement award at LIFFI

The festival will also confer awards for editing and cinematography in the names of Renu Saluja and VK Murthy, respectively.

Keyur Seta

The first Lonavala International Film Festival of India (LIFFI), which begins on Thursday, will showcase films from India and abroad.

Asked about the films to look forward to, festival director Riju Bajaj said, “I was talking to my jury and they are biting their nails contemplating which film is to be awarded. We have awards for Best Film, Best Short Film, and Best Documentary Film. There are certain other films that are not part of the competition. So it’s very difficult to say which films to look out for.” 

One of the highlights of the festival is the screening of the digitally restored Guru Dutt classic, Pyaasa (1957). LIFFI will also showcase films that are either unreleased or hardly exposed to Indian audiences. These include 1962 My Country Land (English), Money Devo Bhava (Hindi), Lens (English), Threshold (Hindi), Music Meri Jaan (Hindi), Life Biryani (Hindi), Unindian (English), Gelo (Punjabi) and Pahada Ra Luha (Odia).

The festival will be graced by renowned names from the film industry. “It will be inaugurated by Shyam Benegal. Naseeruddin Shah and Deepa Sahi will inaugurate the Khemchand Prakash award for Best Music. Govind Nihalani will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement award by Benegal," Bajaj said.

The opening ceremony will also be attended by Vivek Agnihotri, Ketan Mehta, Hansal Mehta, Ratna Pathak Shah, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Pankaj Kapur, Pankaj Tripathi, Rajit Kapoor and Neena Gupta. Actor Vinay Pathak, who is soon going to announce his directorial debut, is also expected.

The jury is headed by Ram Gopal Bajaj. Other members are Dolly Thakore, Gyan Sahai, Atul Tiwari, Suhail Tatari and Shefali Bhushan. “All these jury members are aggressively active in filmmaking. They are not retired or academicians, unlike at most festivals,” Riju Bajaj said.

LIFFI also aims to honour technicians from the film industry. “The Best Editing award will be given in remembrance of Renu Saluja," the festival director said. "Next year it will be in the name of some other achiever. Mostly these awards are always named for some stalwart. But there have been second-, third- and fourth-line technicians who are not recognized. We wish to remember and honour them.”

The Best Cinematography award will be given in the name of VK Murthy, who was known for his work with Guru Dutt and also worked on some films of Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani. "I feel he has not been given his due recognition,” Bajaj said.