Khiladi lights up the show

Bollywood actor, Akshay Kumar seen lighting the traditional lamp to mark the inauguration of the 43rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Panaji on Tuesday. Also present on the occasion were the Governor, Mr Bharat Vir Wanchoo, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Manish Tewari, the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, Mr Uday Kumar Varma and actress Kajal Agarwal.

In the presence of glitterati and cognoscenti from the dream world of cinema, curtains went up on the 43rd edition of the International Film Festival of India at the specially erected facility at Campal with popular actor Akshay Kumar, chief guest at the event, declaring that he owes his entire life of happiness to Indian cinema.

The inauguration of the 11-day film fiesta, which will showcase the best of the world as well as Indian cinema, was attended by Governor, Mr B V Wanchoo, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Manish Tewari, Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar and Secretary for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Uday Kumar Varma. A delegation from Poland led by Polish Minister for Culture was also present on the occasion.

Beginning his address with the declaration, "I love Goa," Akshay Kumar said that he has a beautiful house in Goa and enjoys being in the state with his wife and son. "We are all here as we love cinema," he said, adding that films have always been an incredible source of entertainment in this country.

"Cinema means devotion, excitement, suspense; most of it being family time," said the actor, who is also known for his ‘Khiladi’ series of films, recalling that many, many years ago, he along with his parents and sister skipped Saturday lunch so that they could afford four film tickets, samosas and mango stick ice cream that night at the theatre. "And today, although there is no problem about lunch, I continue the tradition of treating my family to a film on Saturday," he said.

Akshay Kumar, remembering his father-in-law, Rajesh Khanna, who passed away recently, said that the entire country worshipped the first superstar of Indian films. "The superstar had given 17 back-to-back super hits at one point of his career," he maintained. The 2,500-plus audiences, on the request of the popular actor paid homage to Rajesh Khanna, the late Shiv Sena chief, Balasaheb Thackeray, noted director, Yash Chopra, evergreen hero, Dev Anand and others.

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting (Independent Charge) in his address said that IFFI is the oldest festival, which presents the best of international and Indian cinema for discerning audiences. "And this film festival gathers importance as it is celebrated in the year of centenary of Indian cinema," he added, pointing out that Indian film industry, which is a vibrant industry, has today flourished in many regions and languages.

"The government of India is commemorating the 100-year march of Indian cinema by organising many events here and abroad," Mr Tewari announced. Stating that the special section of films on 100 years of Indian cinema is an endeavour of organisers of the mega film festival to make the event interesting and fruitful, for enthusiasts as well as experts, he said that the International Film Festival of India has been organised keeping in mind modern trends, mass appeal, and new experiments in cinema.

Speaking further he said that the government on its part is taking steps to nurture the film industry and promote India as a shooting destination. "We are also encouraging the documentary movement in the country," Mr Tewari stated, noting that the central government will be embarking on an ambitious National Film Heritage Mission during the 12th Five Year Plan to preserve India’s film heritage. He further maintained that India has entered into co-production treaties with many countries for producing quality movies.

The festival director, Mr Shankar Mohan introduced and felicitated the jury for the International Competition Section of the IFFI 2012 headed by noted Indian filmmaker, Gautam Ghosh, and comprising of Anamaria Marinca, Derek Malcolm, Lech Majewski, and Dr Malini Fonseka.

In his speech, Gautam Ghosh said that over the years, the International Film Festival of India has become a burden as a legacy for new generations. "The new editions of IFFI have revised administration and therefore become more independent," the Bengali filmmaker observed, mentioning that more than 700 films have been screened to finally select 15 entries in the International Competition section. He also admitted that there is a major responsibility on jury members to judge films.

On the occasion, renowned Polish filmmaker, Krzysztof Zanussi was conferred the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Minister for Information and Broadcasting carrying an amount of Rs 10 lakh, a scroll, a shawl and a certificate. Known for producing acclaimed films like ‘Camouflage’, ‘Family Life’, and ‘The Silent Touch’, Zanussi said amidst a standing ovation that this was the most moving moment of his life and promised to make more films. He also said that 21st century will be Asia’s century and it is his deep belief that it will be India’s century.

The internationally acclaimed actor, Kabir Bedi and actress, Perizaad Zorabian compered the event. [NT]