International Film Festival of India 2015 began with loads of style, as the hosts Ayushman Khurana and Aditi Rao Hydari led the audience through an evening of spectacular dancing, montages of vintage movies, and a series of clever, heartfelt messages from the stars and dignitaries at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukerjee Stadium near Panjim.
“Goa is the perfect destination for the festival,” said Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, “I welcome all the dignitaries, delegates and members of the film fraternity to this tiny, beautiful and serene state of Goa.”
The chief minister spoke about IFFI as a celebration of the cultural diversity in Goa. He said, “I know how much of an influence movies have had on me and my life, and I promise all necessary support from my government for the possibility of setting up a Goan film industry in the future. At first, it was all about the speculations – whether we could manage to host the festival – today it is more about the expectations that people have from us, to deliver and get better every year.”
Ace dance choreographer Terence Lewis and his troupe of dancers performed the difficult task of entertaining a packed, restive auditorium. A series of five different dance routines interspersed with short movie clips took the audience down memory lane, straight to the early days of cinema—moving from the ‘angry young Indian’ phase, and swinging through jazz, hip-hop and cabaret in the movies. Another routine was dedicated to romance, and the culture of Spain, the focus country at IFFI 2015. The dance soundtracks included hits like Senhorita, Bagho Re, Teri Deewani, Bappa Morya and Kaisi Paheli Zindagani. Undoubtedly one of the most entertaining stage performances ever witnessed at IFFI in Goa, the dancers did justice to every genre of music and left the audience breathless.
Shekhar Kapur, chairman of the jury at IFFI 2015, received a robust cheer as he opened his speech by stating how much he loves Goa. But the biggest roar came for his next line, when he got nostalgic about how he and then-Chief Minister of Goa (and current Defence Minister) Manohar Parrikar fought hard to bring IFFI to Goa. Kapur talked about how creativity requires fearlessness, as there is nothing scarier than a blank canvas. “Every jury member has accepted failure as part of their life and that is why they have scaled great heights in their careers,” he said, before calling on stage the other jury members – Michael Radford, Julia Jentsch, Suna Arraf and Jeon Kyu-Hwan.
Veteran Tamil filmmaker and music composer Ilayaraja, who is currently composing music for his 1,000th film, was awarded the ‘Centenary Award for Film Personality of the Year’ by Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and the opening ceremony’s chief guest Anil Kapoor, to a standing ovation. He sang one of his compositions, based on just three notes. In his acceptance speech, the 72-year-old legend said, “Make music compulsory in schools, colleges, everywhere. The violence will come down.”
Chief guest Anil Kapoor’s speech concluded the function as he thanked the people of Goa for being wonderful to him, and IFFI 2015 for helping him reunite with his Slumdog Millionaire co-star Dev Patel. “I’m meeting Dev for the first time here after the Oscars,” he said.