Bollywood actors Shashi Kapoor and Prem Chopra were felicitated with life time achievement awards at the inauguration ceremony of 27th Pune Festival at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch Friday. Reciting his famous monologue, ‘Prem Naam Hai Mera…’ upon the insistence of spectators, Chopra received the award, while Kapoor’s son Kunal, accepted the award on behalf of his ailing father. Apart from the duo, actor Jackie Shroff, Bindu, musicians Ajay Atul, Dr Uma Ganesh Natrajan Abeda Inamdar and Hema Malini also got awards on the occasion. Malini was honored with a special award for her dedication to the festival for the last 25 years.
The ceremony began with sanai player Tukaram Daithankar’s solo rendition. It was followed by a Ganesh Sthapana event which was conceptualized by Santosh Potdar. Kalavardhini Sankul, a dance group from the city, delivered an ode to Lord Ganesh through their performance. The Ganesh Vandana was choreographed by Arundhati Patwardhan and saw eight dancers performing. It was followed by a Krishna Vandana, one of the most anticipated events which saw Hema Malini enacting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna along with her troupe.
A Lawani and Bhangra fusion event by Marathi film stars, titled ‘Maharashtracha Rangda ani Punjab Cha Bhangda’, took place after the Krishna Vandana. Actors Neha Pendse, Resham Tipnis, Sharvari Jeminis, Saurabh Gokhale, Pushkar Jog and Dipali Sayyad performed on Punjabi and Marathi film songs. The audience were enthralled by the Yoga and Mallakhamba demonstrations by students of Maharashtra Mandal. The last performance was by actors Shruti Marathe, Aditya Kothare, Prajakta Mali and artists of Nrityakal Mandir who enacted dances on the themes of ‘Jai Malhar and Gondhal Adishakticha’.
After the performances were over, an actor impersonating Lokmanya Tilak, the founder of Ganesh Festival, appeared from the crowd and performed Ganesh Puja. Talking after the puja, President of Pune Festival Suresh Kalmadi said, “We started the festival when I became the Chairman of MTDC. It was difficult to carry it on every year, as it gained much repute and the audience kept increasing. However, with the help of a few good friends like Hema Maliniji, I was able to continue it.”
Film stars Anil Kapoor, Shekhar Suman, Poonam Dhillon, Bajaj Group’s Chairman Rahul Bajaj and Maharaja of Mysore Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar were also present on the occasion. On the occasion, Kalmadi also presented a cheque worth rupees five lakh to Chief Minister’s Drought Relief Fund.
Talking on the occasion, the day’s chief guest, Guardian Minister Girish Bapat said, “This is the first time I saw the whole inauguration ceremony. I’m happy that Suresh Kalmadi has preserved the cultural tag of Pune with this festival,” Bapat said.