News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 Cartoons/Comics/Humor
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  Asia-Pacific
Opening Film And IFFI
"West Is West" Sets IFFI Sailing
By Gautaman Bhaskaran
South Asia Editor
Flavia Cacace of "West Is West"

The Union Railway Minister, Mamta Banerjee, inaugurated the 41st edition of the International Film Festival of India at Panaji (Goa) on Monday (Nov. 22, 2010) evening. In an otherwise seemingly somber function, she set an extremely humorous note, and had the audiences in splits with her sometimes snide, sometimes caustic, sometimes witty remarks, so typical of Banerjee. She was happy, though, that the Festival gave a splendid opportunity to Indian cinema to rub shoulders and compete with the best of world cinema. Yes, she was an ardent lover of movies, especially those of Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar and Satyajit Ray among others.

In what appeared like a continuance of this light note, a British comedy drama, “West is West”, set the Festival rolling. Andy DeEmmony’s-Om Puri starrer, “West Is West” is a sequel to the highly successful 1999, “East Is East”.

The story written by Ayub Khan-Din is set in England in 1976. Father George Khan (Om Puri) is worried that his youngest son, Sajid Khan (Aquib Khan), is too British and looks down upon anything Pakistani, where the family hails from. Based on the writer’s own life as a young man in the 1970s Salford, with Sajid being his alter ego, “West is West” is certainly not as engaging as the first work.

When Sajid plays truant in school and begins to shoplift, getting caught eventually, the father decides that enough is enough and takes off with him to his homeland, Pakistan. There he is forced to meet his wife and daughter he had not seen for 30 years, having neglected them for a British woman, Ella (Linda Basset) he married, to start a completely different kind of life in England.

Often, the movie turns into a farce, especially when it reaches Pakistan. It is only when it settles down at an emotional level that it attains a certain depth. The turn comes with engaging force when Sajid makes new friends in Pakistan, and Ella comes knocking for a confrontation. Khan has to make a difficult choice.

Contributing significantly to the film’s elevation is Ila Arun, who plays Khan’s first wife. However, Puri seems tired, a bit jaded, having had to essay similar roles over and over again.

Puri could not be at Panaji, busy as he was shooting in Germany, but the Festival’s opening night did mark the presence of celebrities like Ajay Devgn, Raima Sen, Revathy (who is on the international jury) and Israeli director, Dan Wolman among others.

Travails:

The International Film Festival of India ,which first opened in 1952, though it began a regular annual run about two decades later, has had an extremely troubled life. Somewhat like two other historic movie festivals at Cannes and Venice – which have had their fair share of disruptions and derailments – the 11-day Indian extravaganza has been rolling and pitching over an extremely rough sea.

While, Cannes has steadied itself – at least over the past 20 years with organisational stability and excellent selections, Venice has been less fortunate. The oldest in the world, having been founded in 1932, it has had the regrettable reputation of having as many directors as there had been governments. It is only in the past six years that Venice has enjoyed a modicum of constancy with Marco Mueller having taken over the helm of affairs in 2004. Mueller has an illustrious reputation: he is a renowned historian, author and film critic who piloted celebrated film festivals like Rotterdam and Locarno.

Cannes had Giles Jacob since the late 1970s who helped make the festival the world’s best. Jacob is still an integral part of the Festival, though in 2004, Thierry Fremaux, took over as the artistic director. Both men have been celebrated movie critics and writers with a keen sense and knowledge of cinema.

This is the kind of stability that the International Film Festival of India has been crying for, but is yet to find. This shortcoming bobs up and down the River Mandovi on whose banks the 41st chapter of the Festival is unfolding.

For decades, the event led a gypsy existence, moving from city to city in India. It used to return to New Delhi every other year. As much as this was helpful in a country where most people could not travel to the capital to watch world cinema, the administrative challenges that it posed were frightening. A former Festival director, Malti Sahai, never failed to tell me how she and her staff used up to 60 per cent of their energy setting up or even creating an infrastructure in a new city every other year. “This leaves us with very little time to look at the most important aspect, selection of cinema”, she rued.

Happily, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which runs the Festival, through one of its wings, Directorate of Film Festivals, decided to strip the event of its gypsy cloak. Panaji in Goa was chosen as the permanent venue in 2004, and admittedly it was splendid and scenic. The Festival complex bang on the banks of the Mandovi looked impressive, and the ambiance was just right for the movies. So was the mood that the Goan culture of dance, music and mirth helped create.

But over these six years, Panaji has caused its own set of problems. For one, the State Government has been obsessed with the idea of giving a different identity to the Festival. Goa argued that just about every major festival in the world carried the name of the city where it was held: Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, Melbourne, Marrakech, Dubai, Deauville and so on. So, why not call it the Goa International Film Festival. It still would not have carried the name of the city, Panaji, though. But never mind, Goa said.

Goa had a deeper motive. It was reportedly trying to hijack the Festival in a way, trying to pull it away from the effective control of the Directorate. In fact, I did see on a couple of occasions how the name had been tampered with to make “Goa” a part of it. If my memory serves me right, it was termed, Goa International Film Festival of India.

Behind this war, subtle though, was the Entertainment Society of Goa that over the years began to control a part of the Festival. Hospitality, travel, guest lists, celebrities and even a movie section where the latest mainstream Bollywood fare was screened.

The essential danger, as I saw it, lay in the fact that the Society was eager to rope in Mumbai’s cinema fraternity, and there was certainly one year when the Festival turned into a Bollywood circus. The power of the spectacle was so strong that most people preferred to watch the show that was happening on the streets, rather than the artistic, arthouse cinema that was being shown inside the near world class theatres.

In an important way, the weaknesses of the Directorate were being taken advantage of to wrest power from it. For one, it has had had no permanent director for years. The last Director, Sahai, who helmed the Festival for over a decade was never given the designation. She remained the Deputy and later the Joint Director.

The present Director, S.M. Khan, has been part of India’s bureaucracy for a long time, and those who have had the opportunity to move with him tell me that he had always been a very able officer. But, sadly, Khan is not a man of cinema. He has never made that claim either. To have appointed him as Director has been one of the follies of the Ministry.

Two, the Festival still remains one that is run with the help of brochures. At least, largely so. If a Festival is to reach a certain level of excellence, it needs to send its officers to similar events across continents. Only then can it hope to rustle up decent selections. I did not see anybody from the Festival at Venice this year. I did not see anybody at Abu Dhabi. Was there somebody at Berlin? I wonder.

Despite all this, the Festival this time appears to be one of the brightest in recent memory. A retrospective of Jim Jarmusch, the independent American filmmaker, will be one of the highlights. Shankar Mohan, Festival Joint Director and Artistic Curator, tells me that this is the first ever occasion that a retro of Jarmusch will be seen in India. “It is coup”, he chuckles.

Other retrospectives will include those of Mira Nair, Polish helmer Jan Jakub Kolski and Cypriot director Michael Cacoyonnis. Mexico and Sri Lanka will be the countries in focus, and there will be special sections on Taiwanese New Wave, contemporary Iranian cinema and Cannes 2010 Kaleidoscope. These are certainly very interesting.

Apart from these, there will be an International Competition of 18 movies, including three from India (Umesh Kulkarni’s “Vihir”, Goutam Ghose’s “Moner Manush” and Kaushik Ganguly’s “Just Another Love Story”).

Finally, sections such as Cinema of the World and the Indian Panorama with 26 films would take us into amazingly varied regions with their fascinating stories, giving us hours of magical moments.

Gautaman Bhaskaran has been watching the International Film Festival of India for a quarter century.



Related Articles
    Tiger Man Mike Pandey
    Egypt's First Edition of El Gouna Film ...
    El Gouna Film Festival Opens with Sheikh ...
    New Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival to Add ...
    India Stands Shamed after Racial Attacks near ...
    The Dashing Pedro Almodovar to Chair Cannes ...
    Korean Cinema Comes to Chennai in India
    The Horror of Custodial Death
    Modi Is the Man We Need in India
    Mumbai’s Child King
    The Cocktail at Cannes
    Cannes Film Fest Begins on a Hollywood Note
    Mumbai Terrorized Again
    Venice Lines Up Impressive Jury
    Cannes Film Fest Begins on a Delightful Note
    No Indian Movie at the Festival
    Meaningless Film Censorship
    This Bloody Life!
    Mumbai and Pusan Film Fest Establish Ties
    On Road, in Rage
    India Picks Wrong Films for Oscars
    Robert De Niro to Head Cannes Film Fest Jury
    Someone Killed Jessica, But of Course!
    Middle Eastern Cinema Hits Hard
    Dubai Film Fest Opener
    Dubai Film Fest to Unravel Diverse Selection
    Indian Police Cut Corners to Tackle Crime
    Goa Festival Not God's Own
    Fine Cinema at the Coming Dubai Film Festival
    "The King's Speech" to Set the Fest Rolling
    Abu Dhabi Film Festival a Fantastic Mix of ...
    "Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema" ...
    The Venetian Storm
    Frieda's Venice
    Jafar Panahi's Music Soothes Souls
    "Black Swan" Opens Venice Festival
    Festival to Bounce with Youthful Energy
    Shame and Scandal Plague Commonwealth Games
    Child Needs Compassion, Not Cane
    A Beast Called Beauty
    Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema
    Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Crime Called Bhopal
    Honour Killings Are India's Shame
    Cannes Film Festival And Poetry
    Cannes More Art Than Glamour This Time
    An Indian Pilgrimage to Cannes
    Maoist Rebellion in India
    Asians to Carry the Torch at Cannes
    Cannes Film Festival and Probables
    "Robin Hood" to Open Cannes Film Festival
    Persecution of Artists
    The Only Two Real Races This Year
    Curry Bashing in Australia
    US Director Tim Burton to Lead Cannes Jury
    India's Car Boom Creates Its Own Chaos
    Making Idiots Out of Men
    Indian Girls Find Paris Hilton’s Shoes Too Hot
    Mexican Film Wins Top Prize at Marrakech
    Ben Kingsley Hopes to Be an Envoy for Cinema
    Movie Director Hopes Obama Would Solve the ...
    Nandita Das on Marrakech Jury
    A Decaying Film Festival
    Marrakech Festival a Boon for Local Cinema
    Panorama Selection Questionable
    IFFI to Open on a Note of Visual Lyricism
    South Korea to Be Focus at the Film Fest
    Dalai Lama’s Tawang Visit Vexes Beijing
    Why Mumbai Film Fest Scores over Goa
    Mumbai’s Young Movie Critics Ready to Tear ...
    India Is Still Hungry for Food
    Honor Killing through Lens at Mumbai Festival
    11th Mumbai Film Festival to Open with Matt ...
    Film Festival to Showcase Some Gems
    Can India Host 2010 Commonwealth Games?
    A New Irritant in India-China Ties
    The Venetian Sorrow
    The Tiger War
    Israeli War Film Wins Venice’s Top Golden Lion
    Politicians Livid over Festival Movie
    "Bad Lieutenant" Creates Bad Blood between Two ...
    Clooney and Damon Star Attractions at Venice
    Muslim Bashing Must End
    Mumbai Film Festival Prizes to Be among the ...
    An Indian Juror in De Sica Land
    India's Gays Can Now Love without Fear
    Moore's "Capitalism," 70 Other Films to ...
    An Indian Summer at the Lagoon City
    Festival May Be Strong on European Fare
    A Tamil Film with a Difference
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: But ...
    India Is Racist Too
    Hollywood Bungles in Bollywood
    The Tragic Tale of the Indian Tiger
    Cannes Jury Honors Chilling Tales
    Lars Von Trier’s Sex and Horror
    Gems and the Cannes Film Festival
    Market and the Cannes Film Festival
    Keats Poetry, Campion’s Reading
    Lou Ye’s Controversial Disaster
    Clash of Titans on the Croisette
    Sexy Sirens and Political Propagandists
    Is Sharmila Tagore the Right Choice for Cannes ...
    The Stars in Cannes’ Dark Skies
    Cannes Courts Controversy
    Indian Elections: A Circus of Villains
    Festival Unveils Lineup of Masters
    Beyond Bollywood’s Melodramatic Mishmash
    India's Infrastructure at Breaking Point
    Guessing the Festival Goodies
    Kate Winslet the New Face of Brilliance
    Tarantino’s ‘Basterds’ to Spit Fire at Fest
    Animated Film, Up, to Open Festival
    Smoking Screen
    Oscar-Rich Penelope Set to Master English
    Cannes Honours Clint Eastwood
    Renowned French Star to Chair Cannes Jury
    Fable of Mr Benjamin Button: Riveting Cinema
    The Mangalore Molest
    Aamir Khan Film Is a Bad Copy
    It May Well Be the End of Agony in Sri Lanka
    Woody Allen’s "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
    International Film Festival of India
    Mumbai Terror
    Marrakech Int'l Film Festival Has Grown
    Marrakech Int'l Film Festival
    Marrakech International Film Festival
    Shambled Secularism
    Benegal’s Sajjanpur
    Birdwatchers
    Venice Festival Blues
    Venice under the Hollywood Spell ?
    A Riveting Movie on Islam's Crisis
    Venice Festival a Haven for World Premieres
    Pakistani Films Come to India, at Last!
    Tamil Super Hero Rises Again
    The Comic Fantasy
    The Smoking Screen!
    Bollywood and Beyond at Stuttgart
    New Film May Spell Hope for Bollywood
    Indian Cinema Feeds Deceit
    An Indian Film on an American Power Plant
    India Not At Cannes
    Cannes Line-Up
    Writer Taslima Nasreen Forced Out of India
    India Inspires World Fashion
    Mills & Boon
    "Jodhaa Akbar" Creates Controversy in India
    Sania Mirza Subject to Ridicule in Native India
    Sarkozy and Bruni Love Causes Moral Outrage
    India and the Oscars
    Marrakech International Film Festival Reviewed
    Paranoid Park
    Cannes 2007: Killings
    The Spy Case
    The Good and the Not So Good
    Bollywood Superman
    First Kashmiri Film in 20 Years
    Chinese Influence Seems Unstoppable
    Cannes Film Festival 2006: Minimalism, Too
    Cannes Fest Prizes
    Cannes Film Festival 2006: Great Delights
    The Da Vinci Code
    Missing Tigers
    The Despair of Tibetans
    Trilateral Stratagem To Slow China's Growth
    Sri Lanka Crisis
    Hollywood Movies Doing Well In India
    Peace Pipe
    Mangal Pandey: The Rising
    Honda Clash
    Bush-Manmohan Singh Pact
    Satyajit Ray, Still India's Most Noted Movie ...
    Ban on Cigarettes in India
    "Match Point" Excoriated by Britons
    Crisis In India’s Hindu Nationalist Party
    Manmohan Singh’s One Year
    58th Cannes International Film Festival Begins
    Indo-Pakistan Cricket Diplomacy
    U.S. Visa Refusal
    The 7th Deauville Asian Film Festival Closes
    Seedy Film Journalism
    Indian Tigers Butchered in Broad Daylight
    No Oscar for Scorsese, Yet Again
    Nepal in Turmoil As King Sacks PM Deuba
    History Repeats in Struggle for Free Press
    India Could Have Prevented Tsunami Deaths
    Argue over Freedom on Internet
    "City of Gold" Dubai Stands like Oasis in ...
    Towards a Solution to the Kashmir Problem
    India & China Rising
    Bush Victory and India
    Indian Robinhood
    After 9/11, World Links Muslim with Violence
    India's Great Heritage Taj Mahal in Danger
    "Kashmir": A Never Ending Thorny Issue
    The Village -- A Silly Joke
    Jakarta Bombing Aimed at Aussie ...
    Millions of Indians Go to Bed Hungry
    Sri Lanka's Ethnic War Knows No End
    Over 600 Tibetan Monks, Nuns Should Be Freed
    India's Schoolgirl Killer Hanged in Controversy
    3 Kidnapped Indians Endure Agonizing Torture
    Musharraf's Sets Deadline on Kashmir
    Usefulness of Nepalese Monarchy in Question
    Temple of Learning Turns into Grave of Death
    AIDS Keeps Threatening the Poor in Asia, Africa
    Fearful of Dowry Parents Kill Newborn Girls
    Hot Discussion on Death Penalty in India
    India's Flag of Democracy Kept Unfurled
    Politics Dominates Cannes Int'l Film Festival
    Intolerance Grows before India General Election
    Fears of Strife Continue in Sri Lanka
    Torture, Rape Occur in Indian Classroom
    World Leaders Must Take Stand against Nukes
    India's Cities Prosper as Country Folk Starve
    India, Pakistan Form Friendly Ties
    Cell Phones Bring Joy, Sorrow World Over

Other Articles by Gautaman Bhaskaran
Tiger Man Mike Pandey
Egypt's First Edition of El Gouna Film ...
El Gouna Film Festival Opens with Sheikh ...
New Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival to Add ...
India Stands Shamed after Racial Attacks ...


Gautaman Bhaskaran is a veteran film critic and writer who has covered Cannes and other major international festivals, like Venice, Berlin, Montreal, Melbourne, and Fukuoka over the past two decades. He has been to Cannes alone for 15 years. He has worked in two of India’s leading English newspapers, The Hindu and The Statesman, and is now completing an authorized biography of India’s auteur-director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Penguin International will publish the book, whose research was funded by Ford Foundation.

 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 02-555-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange