The 16th edition of the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) kicked off on Thursday with an opening ceremony where the chief guest was more than two hours late, but that didn’t stop the other guests from having a good time, or sharing their wonderment about the magic of cinema. The festival offers a carefully curated selection of 200-odd films from 91 countries, masterclasses and more; it will go on until January 18.
At the ceremony, held at Citypride Multiplex, Kothrud, three men were honoured for their significant contributions to Indian cinema. Sholay director Ramesh Sippy and film producer Ramesh Prasad received the ‘PIFF Distinguished Award’, while playback singer S P Balasubrahmanyam got the ‘S D Burman Award for Creative Sound and Music’.
The event was supposed to be inaugurated by state Minister of Finance Sudhir Mungantiwar but had to start without him, as the latter arrived almost two hours late. The responsibility of felicitating the jury members fell on the three Kapoor brothers — Randhir, Rajiv and Rishi — who were at the event to hand over the negatives of RK Studio films to the National Film Archive of India (NFAI).
The event hit a high note when Balasubrahmanyam regaled the audience with a few lines of poochho na kaise maine rain bitaayi, composed by Burman and loved by many, after receiving the award instituted in the composer’s name. “I always dreamt of singing for Burman saab but I didn’t get the opportunity… though I was fortunate enough to sing several songs for his son R D Burman,” said Balasubrahmanyam, before singing a few more lines from popular Hindi songs sung by him, to much applause and appreciation from the audience.
Prasad told the audience about the time when he had to carry forward the legacy left by his father A L V Prasad, and he decided to put his engineering skills to good use. “Using my technical knowledge, we built film processing labs to serve the film industry. I am proud to say that every major producer in India has used our technical expertise,” he said.
Sippy termed the Indian film industry as a family, albeit a “huge family”. “There are so many talented musicians, singers, directors and actors who have contributed so greatly that you can’t help but feel humbled,” he acknowledged.
Minister Mungantiwar praised the efforts taken by the festival’s director, Dr Jabbar Patel. “Cinema is a mirror to the society and there are many things one can learn from films,” he said.
Among those present on the occasion were actor Mohan Agashe, film directors Sunil Sukathankar and Sumitra Bhave, PIFF Secretary Ravi Gupta, Director of National Film Archive of India Prakash Magdum, NFAI Deputy Director Keerti Tiwari and Director of Film and Television Institute of India Bhupendra Kainthola.