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IFFI 2021 opens with star-studded ceremony, Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh perform

The 52nd edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) started on a high note here on Saturday with electrifying performances by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh and Shraddha Kapoor.

IFFI 2021 opens with star-studded ceremony, Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh perform
Salman Khan and Ranveer Singh (Image source: Twitter)

The star-studded opening ceremony of the movie gala, which took place at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, was hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar and Maniesh Paul.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Governor of Goa P S Sreedharan Pillai along with film personalities like Prasoon Joshi, Madhur Bhandarkar, Mouni Roy, Resul Pookutty and Parineeti Chopra attended the event.

Thakur said the government aims to make India a powerhouse of content creation, especially regional cinema by scaling up regional film festivals. ''We aim to make India the post-production hub of the world by leveraging the immense talent of our youth. We aim to make India a hub of world cinema, a destination for film festivals and a most favoured place for filmmakers. After all, India is a land of storytellers, rich in resources. Today the world wants to hear the story of India.

''The film and entertainment industry has a huge employment opportunity as we leapfrog into the digital era of content, filmmaking and not to forget, film archiving for the future generation,'' he said.

The union minister asserted that the media and entertainment sector builds on three unique propositions that India offers -- abundant and competent labour, ever growing consumption expenditure and a diverse culture and linguistic heritage. ''We have these powered by the extensive footprint of mobile, internet and industrialisation. With this unique combination of connectivity, culture and commerce, India is poised to be at the epicentre of the cinematic ecosystem,'' he added.

Sawant said the coastal state is working towards providing single window clearance for film shooting in Goa.

''This will allow Goa to become a hub of shooting for filmmakers,'' he added.

He also announced that Goa will soon become the first state to have its entire population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CM revealed that the state is discussing with the centre to make a film city in Goa.

''We are making efforts to establish a film city and a film institute here so that there is a talent pool, whether in film editing, photography, cinematography or direction, available for movies,'' he said.

The ceremony saw veteran actor-politician Hema Malini getting the Indian Personality of the Year award. She was felicitated by Thakur, Sawant and Minister of State Information and Broadcasting Dr L Murugan.

''So much good work is happening here for our film industry. It is amazing to see young talented filmmakers get involved with IFFI. I believe this should continue,'' Malini said.

Whereas globally renowned filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Istvan Szabo were honoured with the first-ever Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement award.

''I am honoured to receive such an award named after one of the truly great filmmakers of all time and my inspiration, Satyajit Ray,'' Scorsese said in a pre-recorded video message.

The multiple Academy Award-winning filmmaker, best known for his films like ''Goodfellas'', ''Taxi Driver'', ''Raging Bull'', ''The Departed'' and ''Shutter Island'', said he has returned to Ray's cinema time and again and every time it has been a ''new experience''.

''Watching 'Pather Panchali' was a revelatory experience for me and it opened a whole new world for me,'' he added.

Szabo, the Hungarian auteur known for making 1981 feature film ''Mephisto'' that won the best foreign language film Oscar, recalled the ''profound'' discussion he had with Ray many years ago.

''I met Mr Ray many years ago in Madras. He invited my wife and me for dinner, which was very excellent. We had a fantastic discussion about his films and about our profession -- filmmaking. It was a profound discussion which I will never forget. And I can never forget his charismatic face and his spirit,'' the 83-year-old director said.

The hosts also welcomed 75 youngsters who were selected for the festival's 75 Creative Minds initiative.

''For the first time ever, we are recognising and mentoring 75 young creative minds of tomorrow as we mark 75 years of Independence. They have been chosen by the grand jury after a meticulous screening process. They are seated among us and will be attending masterclasses by the cinema icons,'' Thakur said.

Adding some Bollywood glamour to the cinema gala, Ranveer performed on the hit Hindi tracks from the last five decades like ''Ye Desh Hai Vir Jawano Ka'', ''Zindagi Ek Safar'', ''Pyaar Hume Kis Mod Par Le Aaya'' and many others.

Shraddha showcased the power of Indian women with her performance on motivational songs like ''Kar Har Maidan Fateh'' and ''Badal pe paon hain''. Her performance was followed by an act by star-couple Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D'Souza, who promoted regional cinema by performing on Marathi songs.

Salman's high-octane act on his hit songs from movies ''Dabangg'', ''Sultan'', ''Bharat'' and ''Tiger Zinda Hai'' brought an end to the opening ceremony.

IFFI, which will run till November 28, will feature 148 films from about 73 countries in the International Section. The festival will have about 12 world premieres, about seven international premieres, 26 Asia premieres and about 64 India premieres.

An array of world-renowned filmmakers, actors, technicians, critics, academicians and film enthusiasts will come together to celebrate cinema and the art of filmmaking through various film screenings, presentations, masterclasses, panel discussions and seminars.

Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura's ''The King of All the World'' is the opening film for the 52nd edition, while Asghar Farhadi's ''A Hero'', which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, will close the festival.

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