The 17th edition of Pune International Film Festival of India (PIFF), the official film festival of Maharashtra, started in the city on Thursday with a chaotic and mismanaged opening ceremony that has become the characteristic of the festival over the years. State Minister of Culture Vinod Tawde, who was supposed to inaugurate the event, gave it a miss despite being in the city and attending several other events.
The organisers delayed the event for an hour and a half, waiting for Tawde, before requesting senior actor Rohini Hattangadi, a guest for the opening ceremony, to do the honours. Mayor Mukta Tilak, who had reached the venue in time, left abruptly before the event started.
The film festival, to be held across four venues in the city, is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by having ‘In Search of Truth’ as the central theme of the current edition. As many as 150 films from India and abroad curated from 1,634 entries will be screened during the festival, which will go on till January 17. Hattangadi, whose Gandhi (1982) will be shown at the PIFF, inaugurated the event saying, “Suddenly, a big responsibility has fallen on my shoulder.
State’s official film fest tag of no help
Although it’s the official film festival of Maharashtra, the PIFF has been getting a raw deal from the state government for the last few years. The tag of Maharashtra’s official film festival, which it earned in 2010, has not helped it get more funds from the government as it continues to be organised with a paltry budget of around Rs 1.4 crore. The state government contributes Rs 70 lakh, of which the major chunk is spent on giving cash for the awards, leaving very little with the organisers to spend on getting good films and guests. After a change of government in the state, the PIFF has suffered further. While earlier the festival was inaugurated in the presence of the chief minister, now the organisers fail to rope in a single minister for the event. Due to lack of funds, the quality of films too has taken a beating compared with other state film festivals such as those of Kerala and West Bengal, leave aside the International Film Festivals of India (IFFI).
Minister of Culture was supposed to inaugurate the event but he did not come and now I am here to inaugurate the festival.” Renowned cinematographer and director of Indian parallel cinema Govind Nihalani and noted film, TV and stage actor Dilip Prabhavalkar were honoured with the PIFF Distinguished Award for Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema. In the absence of the chief guest, the awards were given away by members of the international jury. Hindi film music composer Vijay Patil of Raam-Laxman duo was felicitated with the SD Burman International Award for Creative Music & Sound.
“I’m humbled for the honour for whatever little that I have contributed. PIFF has succeeded in spreading film culture among youngsters in the city. I have been associated with the festival for a few years and I know that they try their best to make it a success,” said Nihalani after accepting the award.
In his speech, Prabhavalkar said he considered the role of Mahatma Gandhi that he played in Rajkumar Hirani’s Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) as the most important role of his career. “It’s a great and pleasant coincidence that I am getting this award from PIFF when it’s celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. I feel humbled when I look at the luminaries who have won the award before me. I wonder if I’m worthy of sitting in the same row,” said Prabhavalkar.
The opening ceremony started with a ballroom Tango performance by dancers Gladys Fernandez and Santosh Awatramani. The event was followed by a Spanish film ‘Damn Kids’ directed by Gonzalo Justiniano.