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While films of veteran directors appear to be missing from the Indian Panorama section at this year’s IFFI, jury members say they choose only on merit and talk about inviting uncertified entries for the first time.

Written by Alaka Sahani , Harsha Raj Gatty | Updated: November 22, 2016 12:00:32 am
Indian cinema, indian movies, indian film, film fraternity, indian panorama, IFFI, IFFI jury, venkaiah naidu, international film festival of india, IFFI goa, ishti, CBFC, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, pinneyum, rajnikanth, kabali, indian express talk, entertainment Still from Ishti.

WHEN Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the Indian Panorama of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, on Monday with the screening of Ishti, a Sanskrit film directed by G Prabha, he called the section a platform for “young, aspiring and independent filmmakers” to showcase their work. Notwithstanding such assurances, eyebrows have been raised over a Sanskrit feature film inaugurating the Indian Panorama for the second consecutive year — last year Priyamanasam was the opening film. Addressing the media, the Indian Panorama jury, however, maintained that all the movies in this section — which comprises 26 feature films and 21 non-feature films this year — have been selected on basis of “merit”.

In a significant step taken for this section, the movies which had not received a certificate from Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) were encouraged to apply this year. According to filmmaker Rajendra Singh Babu, head of Indian Panorama’s jury, nearly 20 such uncertified entries were received and some of them, including Pinky Beauty Parlour, have even made it to the final list. Such entries were required to furnish an affidavit saying they would apply for certification soon.

The inclusion of mainstream commercial movies was frowned upon while the latest work of some veteran masters, such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Pinneyum and Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Tope, are missing from the list. Babu said though they had received these movies as entries, the final selection was made on the basis of what the members of the jury believed were the best. Officials of IFFI had received 255 entries for the feature section and 199 in the non-feature segment.

Every year, the Film Federation of India along with Film and Television Producer Guild of India evaluates up to five films based on popular appeal and box-office earnings, to be shown as part of the Panorama. This year, they chose Raja Krishna Menon’s Airlift, Ali Abbas Zafar’s Sultan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani. As per the guidelines, SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali, winner of the National Award for Best Film, was included in this section as a direct entry.

While saying that the quality of films shown has improved significantly over the years, Babu acknowledged that the Film Federation of India (FFI) must make the process of selection of mainstream movies for the IFFI transparent. Pointing to the omission of Kabali, a blockbuster starring Rajnikanth, he said. “We don’t know about the process used by FFI for the selection as we were not consulted about it. Since the South Indian film industry produces around 1,000 films a year, there should be at least two movies from there in the Panorama.”

The jury also recommended that there be a special section for children’s films. “Although seven to eight children’s movies were shortlisted for the second round of selection, they did not make it to the final list,” he said. Bengali movie Sahaj Paather Gappo (Colours of Innocence) is the only children’s movie which is a part of the Indian Panorama as well as International competition. The features section will screen movies such as Saibal Mitra’s Chitrokar, Sanjib Sabhapandit’s Dikchow Banat Palaax, Ananya Kasaravalli’s Harikatha Prasanga, Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat and Pawan Kumar’s U-Turn among others.

The Panorama’s non-feature film section, which showcases films which are less than 70-minutes long, will open with Ima Sabitri’s Manipuri film Bobo Khuraijam. The 21 films to be screened under this include Hardik Mehta’s Amdavad Ma Famous, Pankaj Johar’s Cecelia, Umesh Mohan Bagade’s Chaukat and Nishant Roy Bombarde’s Daaravtha.

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