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PIFF 2019: Govind Nihalani, Ram Laxman, Dilip Prabhavalkar awarded at opening ceremony 

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Actress Rohini Hattangadi was the chief guest for the opening night of the 17th edition of the Pune International Film Festival.

Suparna Thombare

The 17th edition of the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) kicked off yesterday, 10 January, to a full house and a front row filled with dignitaries from Indian cinema.

This year's theme for the festival is 'In Search Of Truth' to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

In keeping with the theme, Rohini Hattangadi, who won the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983 for her portrayal of Kasturba Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982), was the chief guest for the evening.

"Just eight days ago Jabbar [Patel] asked me to be here as a chief guest. I was very happy. This is the 17th year of the festival, but unfortunately, this is my first time here even though I am born and brought up in Pune, and started my theatre career here. But now, I am happy to be here and declare the festival open," said Hattangadi.

Host for the ceremony, actor Sumeet Raghvan kept the evening entertaining with his dose of humour and charm. His co-host for the night was the upcoming actor Kshitij Date.

Music composers Ram Laxman were awarded the SD Burman Award for their contribution to music in Marathi and Hindi cinema. Laxman came on stage to receive the award to a thunderous applause from the audience and a standing ovation.

Veteran actor-writer Dilip Prabhavalkar and acclaimed filmmaker Govind Nihalani also received the Lifetime Achievement Awards for their respective  contribution to Indian cinema.

Festival director Jabbar Patel also introduced the jury, which includes editor of Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films, B Lenin, writer Kamlesh Pandey, Swedish actor-director Christer Holmgren, German costume designer Daniela Ciancio, Israelian director Joseph Israel Laban, Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage and Iranian director Shabnam Gholikhani.

Patel said that the number of entries had increased drastically from last year, and selection committee had a tough job on their hands. "Last year there were 1,200 entries. This year the number has gone up to 1,634 films from 104 countries," he said.  

PIFF will go on till 17 January.

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Pune International Film Festival