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Indian film star Shahrukh Khan inaugurates 38 IFFI; Goa to "stay" as venue

GOA, India, Nov 24, 2007: The 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-07) got off here with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan inaugurated the event late Friday. Politicians also pledged that India's premier festival would continue to be hosted in this small coastal state that New Delhi wants to build into an "Indian Cannes". Shahrukh Khan called IFFI a pride of the nation. Recognizing the contribution of the common citizen in raising the popularity of cinema, he said, "Let's dedicate the 38th IFFI to ordinary people."

Khan said cinema provides people "independence from loneliness" and a perceived bond with the celluloid characters. This enlivens dreams and offers a course to look up to. He said, through the medium of cinema we try to reach out to others crossing cultural barriers.

Politicians from New Delhi and Goa, delegates, and the film industry from both Bollywood and regional centres across India, took part in the inaugural event.

ADDING GLITZ: Shahrukh Khan, also called SRK in India, drew star-struck audiences at the inaugural event, leaving Indian journalists to mull on his words and focus on what he had said after the event.

Khan (42) -- an acclaimed Bollywood actor, producer and TV game show host -- started out his career appearing in several television serials in the late 1980s. He is known for hit films Deewana (1992), and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998).

These have been some of Bollywood's biggest hits, while films which he played a key part in like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), Veer Zaara (2004) and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006) are the biggest Bollywood hits in the overseas market.

Since 2000, Khan branched out into film production and television presenting as well. His recent hits that made it big include "Chak De! India" and "Om Shanti Om".

"Chak De! India" ("Bottoms Up India" or "Come On India") is a Hindi film that stars Shahrukh Khan and Vidya Malvade in lead roles. It was inspired from a win of women's Indian Hockey team in the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester, and caught the country's imagination with a powerful mix of sports and patriotism.

LIFETIME AWARDS: The Indian government announced the Government's decision to confer the lifetime achievement award to the veteran actor Dilip Kumar. Melody queen, Lata Mangeshkar will be conferred with the lifetime achievement award for film songs.

Dilip Kumar, born in 1922, is considered to be one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema. Starting his career in 1944, Kumar has starred in some of the biggest commercially successful films from the 1940s to the 1980s.

Critics say his performances have been regarded as the epitome of emoting in Indian Cinema. His roles range from the intense to the swashbuckling, the dramatic, the comical, the historical romance and the social.

Mangeshkar (78), whose family roots lie in the small region of Goa, has sung in over 20 major Indian languages and features in the Guiness Book of World Records for the "most recordings" in the world -- believed to cross not less than 30,000 solo recordings.

"AVERAGE CITIZEN": Indian central minister P.R. Dasmunsi said that in the present era of technological innovations, a new vision is needed to benefit the average citizen.

Affordable cinema for the huge mass of film lovers in the country should be ensured by harnessing new technology.

Indian film legends like Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan have been the true cultural ambassadors of India commanding worldwide following, the Indian politician said in his speech. He described actor Shahrukh Khan as a "true icon of Indian youth and sports."

The Minister said that the committee set up to suggest measures to tackle piracy in the film sector has submitted its report and the Government is likely to finalize its view on optical disc laws for this purpose by December end.

GOA AS VENUE: Dasmunsi said that improved infrastructure in Goa is necessary to ensure its position as a desired destination. Continuing as a venue for IFFI, Goa should be able to grow up as an ultimate brand, he added.

There has been some debate here over whether Goa should continue to be the IFFI venue for India. Congress party politicians, who rule both New Delhi and Goa, sought to lay at rest these fears and said Goa would continue to be the venue.

Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat, said that with the fourth consecutive IFFI -- held here since 2004 -- Goa has proved that it can successfully host events of this magnitude.

"Each year we have made improvements but for such events do take time to settle down," he said. Mr Kamat felt that brand IFFI would make Goa a sought after destination for foreign as well as Indian film makers.

ROMANIAN FILM: The Romanian film "4 months, 3 weeks & 2 days" was screened as the opening film. The director of the opening film Cristian Mungiu and the main actress, Anamaria Marinca, were felicitated at the inaugural ceremony.

Foreign delegates from Netherlands, China, Poland and Mexico were also present. Around 200 films will be screened during the 11-day Festival.

The Cinema of the World section will feature a choice of the year's best international cinema. This section will have 76 films from 42 countries.

A specialized competition for feature films by Asian, African and Latin American directors is being organized. Under this section, fourteen films from 13 countries have been selected for the competition.

COUNTRY FOCUS ON HUNGARY: Hungary will be in focus under the section 'Country Focus'.

Seven films 'Black Brush' (Director: Roland Vranik), 'Dealer' (Director: Benedek Fliegauf), 'Eastern Sugar' (Director: Ferenc Torok), 'Hukkle' (Director: Gyorgy Palfi), 'Temptations' (Director: Zoltan Kamondi), 'The Porcelain Doll' (Director: Peter Gardos) and 'Vagabond' (Director: Gyorgy Szomjas).

In the Film India Worldwide category, three films 'AIDS Jaago' (Mira Nair), 'Amal' (Richie Mehta) and 'The Pool' (Chris Smith).

The Retrospective of Ingmar Bergman is to feature seven of his highly acclaimed films, namely, 'Autumn Sonata', 'Fanny and Alexander', 'The Seventh Seal', 'The Virgin Spring', 'Through a Glass Darkly', 'Shame', and 'Wild Strawberries'.

The Indian Panorama at IFFI 2007 is to see the screening of 36 films, 21 features and 15 non-feature films. The package is a mixed bag with stalwarts like Budhadeb Dasgupta and Adoor Gopalakrishnan presenting two films each. The section would have Ami Iyasin Aar Amaar Madhubala (The Voyeurs- Feature) and Naushad Ali (The Melody Continues - Non Feature) by Budhadeb Dasgupta and Naalu Penunungal (Four Women- Feature) and The Dance of the Enchantress (Non Feature) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Debut directors like Sameer Hanchante, Samir Chanda, and Bhavna Talwar would present their films Gafla (Scam), Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale of a River), and Dharm respectively at the festival. A special section celebrating 60 years of India's independence, India @ 60, would showcase seven patriotic films including three feature and four documentaries.

Like in recent years, this year too IFFI also features a Film Bazaar for films from India as well as foreign countries, seminars, discussions and press conferences, IFFI Goa film treasures (a section dedicated to international film heritage) and special festival publications on the films are also part of the event.

Theatre facilities for IFFI  2007 have been upgraded. Nine theatres with a total seating capacity of 3026 seats are part of the Festival complex as compared to five theatres with a total seating capacity of 2200 last year.

OFFICIAL STAND: Speaking during a "India: The Big Picture" conference organised by the Indian national trade and commerce lobby CII, the federal minister of informatino and broadcasting P. R. Dasmunsi said digitisation should ensure that technology is affordable to sustain the "cinema-seeing habits of the commonman".

He said, of late, the  building up of good theatres hed been confined only to the setting up of plush multiplexes, the rates of which a common Indian filmgoer could often not afford. Additional investments on creating more single-screen theatres are warranted, he added.

Dasmunsi said, the core group set up by the Ministry on Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has made its presentation to the Ministry, and an official view in this regard would be finalized by this year end. On measures to check "piracy" in the film sector, Mr.  Dasmunsi stated that the group set up to look into it has since submitted its report on optical disc laws and the Ministry is examining the draft provisions.

Commenting on TRP rating system of TV programmes, Mr Dasmunsi opined that the present system is faulty and the Ministry is in the process to address this issue.

Frederick Noronha in Goa, India
fred@bytesforall.org

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About frederick_noronha

NORONHA Frederick
(Independent)

Frederick Noronha is a festival reporter with filmfestival.com and fest21.com.
Covering the festival scene from Goa Festival and more to come .

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