As the opening ceremony of the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) progressed, it seemed like a platform to promote India as a destination for filmmakers. In between entertainment acts and announcements related to the festival, pitches were made to draw tourists to Gujarat and Goa. Jharkhand was presented as a “film-friendly” state.
Held on Tuesday at Goa’s Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, the ceremony focussed on the government’s initiative “Film in India”. Under this, India was projected as a perfect destination for foreign filmmakers, with a promise to “ease the process for those who come to film their projects in India”. The Gujarat tourism publicity featured the Statue of Unity as the main attraction, and a short film listed the incentives rolled out by Jharkhand.
The ceremony began with a tribute to period dramas in Indian cinema. A medley of songs played out, as dancers swayed under stobe lights, making it a spectacular show. Playback singer Shilpa Rao performed a number of songs, from Rabindranath Tagore’s Ogo Bideshini to Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s ghazal popularised by Farida Khanum, Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo.
Filmmaker Karan Johar, who is part of the IFFI steering committee, held a Koffee with Karan-style question-and-answer session with Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and actor Akshay Kumar. During the session, Kumar was quizzed about Rathore’s achievements and the minister was asked to recall the number of “Khiladi” movies the actor has featured in. At the end, a hamper from a peda (sweet) company was presented to them.