International Film Festival of Goa rocked the red carpet








Maxine Salma,    Screen Australia Head of Marketing Kathleen Drumm, Manju Mittal  and  Producer Lauren Edwards

By Manju Mittal

Goa International Film Festival India is not only the biggest national festival but also it is one of the most significant and the oldest film festivals in Asia. I had the opportunity to attend the 44th Goa International Film Festival late last year in Panji, Goa which kicked off with a glittering ceremony that celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema. To see so many stars ”“ young and the old  – like Kamal Hasan, Waheeda Rehman, Rekha, Asha Bhosle, Ramesh Sippy, Deepti Naval, Jackie Shroff, Rani Mukuerjee, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai, Prem Chopra, Subash Ghai, Om Prakash Mehra , to me it was a dream come true.

The festival began unfolding with the lighting of the traditional lamp by Mr Manish Tiwari, Governor of India, Mr Bharat Vir Wanchoo, Chief Minister of Goa, Mr Manohar Parrikar, Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Mr Bimal Julka, the legendary singer Asha Bhonsle, Iranian film director Majid Majidi, Waheeda Rehman and Chief Guest Susan Sarandon.  Academy Award winning Hollywood actor & chief guest of at the occasion Susan Sarandon began her speech with Namaste India and received warm applause. Actor Kamal Hasan said he owed his success as an artist to the fraternity of the world cinema. He stated that he is proud to one of the students of legendary filmmaker Jeri Menzel and publicly thanked the Master for enabling him to put whatever he has in all his films. Asha Bhosle said that she was proud to say that she hails from Goa. “My father left Goa when it was part of Portugal at the age of 10 to seek a career in Bombay as a classical singer and theatre actor and it is seventy years since I had started singing at the young age of just ten”. She concluded that she is 80 now and hopes to sing for at least another ten years.

Actress Waheeda Rehman lights the inaugural lamp at the 44th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2013) in Panaji of Goa on Nov.20, 2013. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, actor Kamal Has







Waheeda Rahman lighting the ceremonial lamp as she was conferred the first Centenary  Award at the Goa Film Fest

The highlights of the evening was Veteran actress Waheeda Rehman being conferred with the Centenary award instituted by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting government of India for the first time to commemorate 100 years of completion of Indian Cinema and the Lifetime Achievement Award being presented to the internationally renowned filmmaker Jiri Menzel for his yeoman contribution to Cinema. An emotional Waheeda Rehman said that she was honoured and felt humbled at the same time having been chosen for the coveted award.








Yestyear heartthrob actor  Manoj Kumar and Information & Broadcasting Minister    Manish Tiwari

It was exhilarating to witness live performance of legendary Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj, who also choreographed a 30 minutes presentation for the occasion with Nishad Khan performing on the sitar. The eminent jury of the festival comprising of Goran Paskaljevic, the chairman, Victor Banerjee, Clare Denis, Prasanna Vithange and Atiq Rahimi was then presented on the stage. The curtains came down on the inaugural ceremony and the audience moved to the adjacent Kala Academy for the screening of the inaugural film Jiri Menzel’s The Don Juans. The opening film was well appreciated at the first day of festival. It was a charming, simple comedy, Opera is the subject of the movie, kind of reminded me of an 80’s coming-of-age movie but modernised. I personally liked it.











Writer with Asha Bhosle

It was truly a joy to experience and watch films from all over the world with likeminded people and at times in the company of celebrities. 170 Films from 70 countries were shown in the IFFI this year.   Film Selection was great, something for everyone from commercial to documentaries films. I ended up watching some great movies –   Baibhav in Assamese, Bengali movie Apur Panchali, short film Baga Beach in Konkani, Pad Yatra the green Odyssey, Masters of Masters of Osho, an Afghani film ”˜A Man’s desire for fifth wife’, and a Japanese film ”˜Unforgiven’. I also enjoyed Director Girish Malik’s film ”˜Jal’, this movie is an entertainer with a soul, it will surely communicate and connect with everybody irrespective of age, geography or gender.  I personally enjoyed watching most was director Veena Bakshi’s film ”˜The Coffin Maker’.  It was indeed a masterpiece, the script and direction of The Coffin Maker was excellent and flawless with Naseeruddin Shah superb acting.

The festival paid special tribute to grand breaking film maker Manoj Kumar, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and K A Abbas. Festival director Shankar Mohan has been great force behind the festival with outstanding films attracting an impressive lineup of Bollywood stars who with their presence gave us all curious ones a glimpse of the most famous film Industry in the world today. It was well courted, professionally staged and extremely well organised, they did fantastic job of keeping the films on schedule. Press Conferences were well coordinated at a grand venue, it gave an opportunity to ask & listen to the directors, actors, in one go. They divulged the inner working of cinema to all the curious media persons who travelled from all over world. Whole red carpet event was conducted gracefully by Vandana Vadehra, who is well known anchor and singer in India. I was very impressed with free taxi service from one venue to another. But apart from all that Film Festival is one of the best time to be in Goa and definitely the best time for a Bollywood buff like me. It has given me so much exposure and information about the festival, it has allowed me to see the excitement of crowd, the passion that they have for this special film festival. I witnessed the day I arrived, stepped in to the city I was stunned how clean the city was. It was truly a festival mood everywhere.   Goa was decorated like a new Bride. Goa is an absolutely gorgeous place. Besides the festival I loved Goa for lot of other activities surrounded the festival which included street local concerts, cruise and Beach parties, stalls, authentic Goan sea food, Konkani culture and the people.

I had fantastic time meeting with many journalists and film makers who seemed very interested in my newspaper – The Indian Down Under in Australia. I interviewed many celebrities. I attended events as many of them as I could. Screen Australia’s Head of Marketing Kathleen Drumm and Producers Lauren Edwards & Robyn Kershaw hosted an event on 22nd November at Marriott hotel Goa. 20 Australians attended the event including 10 producers and some film celebrities as well. India is now Australia’s third biggest export market and the two countries have a strong and growing relationship. Screen Australia’s participation in the film Bazaar is part of Ozfest, an initiative from the Australian Government to build relations and explore opportunities with India.

Awards were announced at the closing ceremony with the presence of popular International action actress and producer Michelle Yeoh as the chief guest, The Chief Minister of Goa Shri Manohar Parrikar and Veteran actress Asha Pareekh.   Kaushik Ganguli had won the Best Director Award for Apur Panchali.  Beatrizs War for Best Film East Timer, Alon Moni Aboulboul got the Best Actor Award for his performance in ”˜A Place in Heaven’, Polish actress Magadalena Boczarska won the Best Actress award for the film ”˜In Hiding’. ”˜Long Walk to Freedom’ directed by Justin Chadwick was the closing film of International Film Festival of India. It is based on Nelson Mandela’s life journey.

My first film festival experience in India was thoroughly indelible from start to finish. The trip was really inspiring because not only did I get to experience film festival but I also met the most talented and amazingly passionate people during my ten day stay in Goa. Attending this festival was the best experience ever which I pursued with total obsession only to hunger for more, hopefully, next year.

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