A lovely evening to be enamoured by Suhasini Maniratnam and Surveen Chawla‘s impeccable compering skills. To be honest, first impression from the opening ceremony of 47th International Film Festival of India, Goa (IFFI) was mostly that. What immediately took us by surprise was a beautifully lit stage and video carousels that could give commercial award ceremonies a run for their monies. Well, let’s get to the highlights pronto!

The most striking segment in this well-organized ceremony was its outstanding ode to Indian cinema’s vibrant women characters across decades. The team dissected qualities of women from over these decades – power, radicalism, fighting spirit, leadership abilities and vivacity. In true sense, this magnificent cinematic odyssey was a priceless tribute to all those talented artists and their prowess in interpreting some of Indian cinema finest characters. Choreographed by Ganesh Acharya, performers did their tribute acts to the T. A personal favourite would be that medley of ‘Kannalane/Kehna Hi Kya’ (Bombay) by KS Chitra (Reason lies the About Me section).

Suhasini and Chawla continued to charm us with each passing segment. The speakers/dignitaries didn’t disappoint either (though one must overlook minor verbal goof-ups from few). The most memorable of them all was the incredibly humble South Korean filmmaker Im Kwon-taek who was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The octogenarian director’s speech was profound and honest – with him owning up to some of his not-so-amazing work. What a man!

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam is special for Indian film lovers. For a South Indian who literally grew up on his voice, watching him receive the ‘Centenary Award for Film Personality of the Year’ was emotional. The veteran singer, on his part, struck a thunderous chord with his warm demeanour and heartfelt speech. Not to forget the way he crooned Vande Mataram – the famous melody in his voice is intact. Blessed souls, as they say.

Union minister for Information and Broadcasting, M. Venkaiah Naidu requested the audience to observe a minute of silence as homage to those who lost lives in Uttar Pradesh train mishap that took place on the day of the event. The eloquent minister also shared relevant opinions on cinema on why it should be left to ones who understands the craft and how the medium could inspire as well as entertain. His anecdote on S. P. Balasubrahmanyam’s talented father was greeted with applause.

The gala event saw several celebrated artists in attendance – Chief Guest Ramesh Sippy, Nana Patekar, Sushant Singh Rajput, Divya Dutta, Nagesh Kukunoor and Sudhir Mishra to name a few from India. Now with an opening as electrifying, let’s expect a helluva ride of great cinema from Day 2! Over to you, IFFI Goa.

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