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IFFI 2017 Opening Night Turns into a Bollywood Show, And That’s a Pity

Both comperes at the show were Bollywood actors, Rajkkumar Rao and Radhika Apte, and the man who opened the Festival was none other than Shahrukh Khan.

Gautaman Bhaskaran | News18.com

Updated:November 21, 2017, 4:21 PM IST
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IFFI 2017 Opening Night Turns into a Bollywood Show, And That’s a Pity
Shahid Kapoor arrives in style at the opening ceremony of the 48th edition of the International Film Festival of India in Goa on November 20, 2017. (Image: Yogen Shah)
A long time ago, when the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) had a gypsy existence with the annual event travelling from city to city, and returning to New Delhi's Siri Fort every other year, there was a concerted effort to find a permanent venue for the movie fete. Several cities were considered, and when the Information and Broadcasting Ministry – which organizes IFFI along with the help of the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) – zeroed in on Goa's Panaji, hoping that it could be transformed into an Indian Cannes, an Indian Riviera, doubts crept into our minds. Goa being so close to Mumbai, will IFFI turn into a platform for Bollywood?

Unfortunately, all those who harbored such skepticism have been proved right. As I watched the inaugural ceremony of IFFI through a live telecast, I could not but help feel that the Festival has been turned into a Bollywood extravaganza. Both comperes at the show were Bollywood actors, Rajkkumar Rao and Radhika Apte, and the man who opened the Festival was none other than Shahrukh Khan. And barring Sridevi – who again does not quite fit into the non-Bollywood mode – I could not see any actor or actress or director from any part of India other than Mumbai.

This is a trend that I have been a witness to for many, many years. I was appalled – and so were so several others – when the then IFFI Director introduced Satyajit Ray as a Bengali director during the opening ceremony at Kolkata (then Calcutta). The Festival had camped there that year.

Sadly, this is exactly what I keep seeing and experiencing all over the world. In Cannes, for instance, the India Pavilion which ought to reflect the nation's amazing pluralism, often does not. It turns into a mini Bollywood for those 12 days when the Cannes Film Festival is on.

At Monday's IFFI inauguration, the only faces I could catch were those from Bollywood. Shahid Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Prasoon Joshi, Nana Patekar, Ileana D'Cruz and the likes.

What about the men and women who go to make the movie industries in Bengal, in Kerala, in Tamil Nadu, in Karnataka, in Andhra Pradesh? What about Madhavan, what about Mani Ratnam, what about Girish Kasaravalli, what about Adoor Gopalakrishnan, what about Prabhas, What about Mammootty, what about Mohanlal, what about Dulquer Salman, what about Vijay Sethupathi, what about Parvathi, what about Nitya Menen, what about Aishwarya Rajesh? These actors and actresses are part of the vibrant Indian film industry. Undoubtedly so.

In a nation like India with its awesome diversity – where dozens of languages and dialects are spoken, which boasts of a multitude of religions, where costumes and food differ from region to region like chalk and cheese and which makes movies in so many languages, it is regrettable that the inauguration of the country's biggest film event, IFFI, had such lopsided representation.

I only hope that the Directorate will set right this anomaly at least on the closing night of IFFI, and ensure that India's diversity and plurality of movie industries are on display.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and film critic)
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