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IFFI 2018 Opening: It’s About Everything but Cinema as Koffee With Karan Takes Centrestage

This year's opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India, IFFI, was billed as the country’s leading movie extravaganza, but the opening ceremony gave ample hints that the promise of celebrating diverse genres of cinema at the event may just remain that, a promise.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com@shrishti_03

Updated:November 21, 2018, 12:40 PM IST
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IFFI 2018 Opening: It’s About Everything but Cinema as Koffee With Karan Takes Centrestage
Image Courtesy: IFFI 2018/ Twitter
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This year's opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India, IFFI, was billed as the country’s leading movie extravaganza, but the opening ceremony gave ample hints that the promise of celebrating diverse genres of cinema at the event may just remain that, a promise.

Several leading Indian film industry and other international movie personalities had gathered to ostensibly discuss the work of a diverse range of filmmakers from across the world, but they talked about already enough embraced Bollywood cinema, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision in planning the Statue of Unity and how well the minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was handling dual portfolios as Information and Broadcasting Minister and Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports.

The ceremony, hosted by Mandira Bedi and Amit Sadh, felt like any other Indian award show that markets itself by showcasing multiple performances from actors and dancers. But the fact that IFFI needed Sonu Sood's dancing act on songs like Hud Hud Dabbang and Gandi Baat to draw audiences summed up that cinema itself has been placed on the bottom rung of the pyramid.

As the ceremony progressed, constant pitches were made to entice tourists to discover Goa and Gujarat. There was an entire segment dedicated to highlight the Statue of Unity. It also featured a short clip of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the monument at Kevadia.

The day, meant to bring nationwide attention to a diverse list of films from all over the world, was further overshadowed by Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar's 'Koffee With Karan' style tête-à-tête, which went on for over 20 minutes. In the segment, Johar spoke to Rathore and actor Akshay Kumar about their shared passion for sports.

"I have never had a minister and a Bollywood superstar together on my show and I don't know when it's going to happen next, but for a fact I think we should leverage this grand opportunity," said Johar, as he promised to curb his otherwise sassy humour and not “cross the boundary” with Rathore.

The filmmaker began the conversation by applauding Kumar for his "superb" performance in his last release Gold, which is due to be screened at IFFI as part of a dedicated section on sports films. The session exhibited a hefty dose of self-praising and seemed unabashedly scripted when Johar smartly connected Kumar's Gold to the gold medals won by Rathore in shooting.

Kumar, whom Johar referred to as the "poster boy" of social messaging, said he enjoys working in socially relevant films, adding, "Whatever films I make, I mean it. I am not just doing it for the sake of it. I really mean it and that's why I go ahead and do it."

Rathore was asked about what initiative is closest to his heart amongst the dual portfolios under his charge, to which he said, "I have learnt a lot from both of them and both are very exciting. In I&B, I get to meet a lot of creative people from the film industry. In sports, there's a whole lot of energy and you get to interact with young people. So both (the ministries) are very close to me."

Rathore also said that if he were to give a ministerial portfolio to Kumar, it would be both of his own, before adding, "there is one dialogue which Akshay said in his film, which I think Manohar Parrikar (former defence minister) also said to our neighbours - 'Don't angry me'." To which Johar promptly added: "So, he gets the Defence Ministry too."

Besides not making adequate attempts to recognise the efforts of national and international filmmakers for their work, the festival, which kickstarted at a time when the entire film industry has been grappling with the sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against many actors, filmmakers and producers, also offered no support to India's nascent #MeToo movement.

In fact, the organisers and the I&B ministry decided to eliminate media bytes on the red carpet in order to prevent any discussion around the subject from happening, reliable sources confirmed to News18 at the venue.

As if this was not enough, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who has been accused of drugging and raping a former employee - a claim he has categorically denied - took a prominent seat at the opening ceremony. He continues to be a member of IFFI's steering committee even as other film festivals like MAMI decided to take a strong stand against the alleged sexual perpetrators by dropping their films from the line-up and showing solidarity with the global movement through a special programme.


The film lovers can only hope that the organisers will realise what they’re missing out on and will not repeat the same drill during the closing ceremony on November 28.

Follow @news18movies for more
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