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Carnival-style start to Goa film festival
Amar Chandel
Tribune News Service

Panjim (Goa), November 29
Goa decked up in its carnival finery to mark the inauguration of the 35th International Film Festival of India here tonight in the presence of a rich cast of film personalities.

Just when Dilip Kumar and Aamir Khan joined the State Governor, Mr S. C. Jamir, the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, and other dignitaries lit the traditional lamp at the Kala Academy auditorium, colourfully decorated floats were passing by on the river-side promenade outside to the cheer of thousands of people who had gathered alongside the picturesque road which had been closed for the occasion.

If Goa needed a strong supporter for its status as the permanent venue of the festival, it found him in Dilip Kumar who did not say anything about cinema at all but concentrated on the merits of Goa and how it would get national attention and international approval.

In the audience were Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, A.R.Rahman, Mira Nair, Jabbar Patel and many other Bollywood personalities.

While the city was seeped in the fun and frolic spirit, the same could not be said about the Dinananth Mangeshkar Hall, the venue of the opening ceremony, which proved to be major disappointment. It was not only too small for a function of this magnitude but also lacked infrastructural facilities. The speakers put on the stage did not seem to have been given a dusting in a long time. At Siri Fort in Delhi, the arrival of dignitaries is screened within the auditorium but no such facilities were available here.

The programme started more than half an hour late. Seating arrangements were atrocious and even Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and Yash Chopra were seen hunting for seats. They ultimately settled down in rear rows.

But the Chief Minister profusely apologised for such shortcomings blaming them all on the acute shortage of time. Indeed, the state got less than a year to start from the scratch.

One hopes that things will unfold more efficiently during the next nine days.

While there were speeches galore, the focus was entirely on the film stars present. Guest of honour Dilip Kumar was the cynosure of all eyes. Age has started telling on him. He addressed Mr Jaipal Reddy as Mr “Jaisimha” and apologised for this faux-pas because on his own admission he had now started forgetting things within minutes.

Just to underline that he was not acting, he told the audience that he had also forgotten to bring his glasses which he needed to read his prepared speech. He later found them in another pocket. He is held in such high esteem that his age-related infirmities moved the audience to tears. He was accompanied by wife Sair Banu who lent him a hand as they walked slowly to their seats in the hall.

Aamir Khan, who these days sports the long-haired, moustached look for the film “Mangal Pandey”, did not make any speech. As long as he was sitting on the dais, he was seen twirling his thick moustaches.

The evening belonged to A.R. Rahman whose 60-member orchestra presented two unreleased songs from Subhash Ghai’s forthcoming film “Kisna”. The English song was sung by Sunita Sarathi and the Hindi one by Udit Narayan and Madhu Shri. The artistes were introduced to the audience by Ghai.

Equally captivating was a dance performance by Isha Shravani, the heroine of Ghai’s film. Her rope dance to an Ismail Darbar composition would have put even a trained gymnast or acrobat to shame.

The five-member international jury headed by Mani Ratnam was introduced to the audience, although three of the foreign members could not make it to the venue. The opening film “Vanity Fair” by Mira Nair was screened today to a warm response.



Samosa for Rs 40
Tribune News Service

Panjim, November 29
The organisers of the 35th International Film Festival of India here seem to have mistaken cinelovers for super rich tourists with very deep pockets.

That is the unmistakable impression one gathers on making a trip to the cafetaria at Kala Academy, the venue of the festival.

The least expensive food item that one can get here is a samosa for Rs 40 while the cold drink costs 10 rupees more than that.

No wonder poor journos and others of their ilk are cross. To make matters worse for them there are no eateries in the neighbourhood.

It is true that the café is being run by a five-star organisation but should not someone bother about budget visitors also? How one remembers the inexpensive food that one used to get at the Delhi venue.

The same feeling is prevalent in the city as well. This is the peak tourist season and hotel rates are at their highest.


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