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IFFI 2017: Unity and national pride to the fore at opening night

Despite the controversies swirling around the event, the festival began with a bang. Shah Rukh Khan made a dramatic entry on stage and struck his trademark loverboy pose.

Shahid Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Majid Majidi at IFFI 2017 (Photo: Shutterbugs Images)

Sukhpreet Kahlon

The 48th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) began with a grand show at Panjim in Goa yesterday, 20 November.

This edition of IFFI will showcase 195 films from 82 countries.

The festival opened with Iranian director Majid Majidi's Beyond The Clouds, starring Ishaan Khattar and Malavika Mohanan. 

The International Competition section carries a cumulative cash prize of over Rs1 crore. The jury, headed by filmmaker Muzaffar Ali, has selected 15 films to compete for the Golden and Silver Peacock awards.

The famous Indian Panaroma section has two components - feature and non-feature. The former will open with Pihu, directed by Vinod Kapri, while the latter will open with Pushkar Puran, directed by Kamal Swaroop.

The Indian jury has been embroiled in a series of controversies with several members resigning in protest against the information and broadcasting ministry's interference in the rolling out of the Indian Panorama line-up.

IFFI 2017: Many cultural similarities between Iran and India, says filmmaker Majid Majidi

Despite the controversies swirling around the event, the festival began with a bang as Goa chief minister Manohar Parikkar welcomed everyone and spoke of the growing film culture in the state. He also promised that the 50th edition of the festival will be celebrated in Goa in a magnificent manner.

Hindi film star Shah Rukh Khan made a dramatic entry on stage and stood with open arms, striking his trademark pose. Welcoming all filmmakers and delegates to the festival, he talked of India as a land of stories, and spoke of filmmakers as being the modern world's storytellers.

King Khan, as the actor is fondly known among fans, also spoke passionately about the centrality of love in filmmaking and said he sees films as a symbol of love and filmmaking as being all about loving.

Stressing on the power of cinema and the stories that bring people together, Khan talked about films as a familial experience. 

IFFI 2017: Pakistani film Saawan dropped after being selected

This message of togetherness was also stressed by Shahid Kapoor who spoke of India as the land of festivities.

Taking this theme forward the dance extravaganza ‘Utsav’ celebrated the land of festivities with a fantastic performance that brought together several traditional dance forms of the country. The charged performance also had the Kathakali dancers coming up amongst the audience in the aisles while dancing with fervour. 

The evening was anchored by Rajkummar Rao and Radhika Apte, who talked about finding pride in ourselves as Indians instead of constantly looking to the West for approval. The festival also paid homage to several noted film personalities who passed away in the past year, including Jayalalithaa, Om Puri, Reema Lagoo, Shakila, Kundan Shah, Ram Mukherjee, Tom Alter, and Vinod Khanna.

Union information and broadcasting minister Smriti Zubin Irani echoed Kapoor's sentiment as she spoke of India as the land of festivals and celebrations, where stories are told in over 1,600 dialects. Elaborating, she said it was the government's endeavour to invite filmmakers from all over the world to India through the festival.

Referring to the controversies surrounding the festival and the criticism against the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, Irani joked about her party's tolerance by pointing out how she had sportingly taken a joke made by the anchors about her surname. 

Besides Shah Rukh Khan and Sridevi, several prominent film artistes and filmmakers were in attendance, including Anupam Kher, Subhash Ghai, Boney Kapoor and daughter Jhanvi, Nagesh Kukunoor, and Nana Patekar.

The festival that is being held from 20-28 November will showcase the best of contemporary international cinema along with special sections such as Bond Retrospective, BRICS award-winning films, Homage and the Cinema of the World, among others.

Filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Shekhar Kapur, Nitesh Tiwari and Farah Khan, and Oscar-winning sound designer Craig Mann, will conduct masterclasses and panel discussions during the festival.

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