IFFI 2023: 54th International Film Festival India begins
Goa CM Pramod Sawant, Minister Anurag Thakur and the who's who of the Indian film industry were present at the inaugural function
A film festival is a shrine of worship for the lover of cinema. It’s where you go to purge bad viewing habits you may have developed solely from experiencing only mainstream cinema. So, what pleasure than to see the who’s who of the world of politics and cinema come together to formally declare open a film festival—more specifically, the 54th iteration of IFFI (The International Film Festival of India), Goa. Each festival begins with plenty of promise, with plenty of films and interactions to consume over its duration. It’s no different this time around, with the festival choosing from as many as 2,926 film submissions from 105 countries. Over the next nine days, festival patrons will get to choose from a mouthwatering selection of 270 films, of which 89 of them will be Indian premieres. Furthermore, in recognition of the growing influence of OTT content, for the first time, there will be a Best Web Series award given as well, along with a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakhs.
The opening ceremony held at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium saw plenty of song and dance, from the likes of Nushrratt Bharuccha and Shriya Saran, but the big moments came in between when first, the Chief Minister of Goa, Dr. Pramod Sawant, addressed the gathering, and then, later, the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, joined in.
Dr Pramod Sawant spoke of cinema being a beautiful language that transcended boundaries and got a round of applause when he spoke about a proposed film city in the State, emphasising the involvement of the Entertainment Society of Goa. Minister Anurag Thakur had some big announcements to make too, and he warmed up by pointing out the achievement of the Chandrayaan mission. In a speech littered with film anecdotes, he drew loud cheers when sharing that the government, in a bid to attract foreign production houses to shoot in India, would be increasing the incentive to a waiver of up to 40 per cent of the costs incurred when shooting here. “They can further avail an additional 5 per cent waiver if what they are making is deemed to be significant Indian content,” he added. Amid the presence of many film personalities including Karan Johar, Sunny Deol, Shahid Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Khushbu Sundar, and Vijay Sethupathi, Minister Anurag added that this year’s Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award would be given to Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, who’s expected to join the festival towards its end.
It was a night that saw many congratulations, many nods to achievements. Awareness, for instance, was spread about the National Film Heritage Mission, as part of which iconic classics like Bees Saal Baad (1962), Haqeeqat (1964), and Guide (1965) are being digitised. Later, Madhuri Dixit was announced the winner of 'Special Recognition for contribution to Bharatiya Cinema' and went on to regale audiences with a performance as well. “I have spent 38 years in the industry, and I’m thankful for the right films coming my way at the right time,” she said.
The night’s loudest cheers were perhaps for Vijay Sethupathi, who seemed rather surprised by the warm reception when he was invited on stage to speak about his silent film, Gandhi Talks, directed by Kishor Pandurang Belekar. “We actors often try to manage our flaws with dialogues, but this film is silent and so, I had to be really careful about how I played my character. I’m excited about its screening at this prestigious festival,” he said, turning the attention back to the exciting days in store at the festival.