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More Goans at the fest

More Goans at the fest
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44rd International Film Festival of India At Goa: More Goans At The Fest. The show must go on, they say, but it was the same old story or is it old wine in new bottles at the 44rd International Film Festival of India at Goa? More correctly the same problems.

The show must go on, they say, but it was the same old story or is it old wine in new bottles at the 44rd International Film Festival of India at Goa? More correctly the same problems. Kits not ready, so naturally no catalogues (how to choose films ?). And hence long, long queues will be the order of the next few days.
The opening function seemed inordinately long even if it was just over two hours. Almost every film star was on the stage, old or new and there was no stopping the flow. Kathak artiste Pt Birju Maharaj and sitar maestro Nishad Khan were good and so were the exuberant dancers as was the jugalbandi, but 45 minutes is too long. This isn’t a music festival, is it. By the time we came to the Vote of Thanks, the hall was half emptied out. Iranian icon Majid Majidi did not get the prominence he so richly deserved and his packet of nine films by Soul of Asia which is sure to be the icing on the festival cake.
44rd International Film Festival of India At Goa
The Centenary of Indian Cinema awardee Waheeda Rehman was gracious as ever and said she was ‘very humbled’ to receive the award and thanked all her directors, co-stars, make-up folks etc who made this award possible and who could forget her mentor Guru Dutt and his ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Kagaz Ke Phool’ or ‘Guide’. I remember first seeing the youthful and ravishing Waheeda over three decades ago at the wedding of ‘Screen’ editor Udyatara Nair.
Then there were the usual suspects we meet each year, but was happy to run into veteran Ravi Mallik, formerly of NFDC who has been out of circulation for a while. The reason is he is now director of the Fiji Film Festival. I remember his efficiency when on the Panorama panel in 1984 when Hrishikesh Mukherjee was Chairman of NFDC.
The representation of Goans at the festival has certainly increased which is a good sign indeed. The opening film was Jiri Menzel’s ‘The Don Juan,’ a delightful spoof on the opera and is actually centred on an Mozart’s ‘Don Giovani’ in which Don Juan (Jose Zerulla) plays the lead role, an old but forward looking person who sings beautifully but also abandons religion. His credo is to live life to the full and not care for the next world.
Since it is an opera there are no dearth of tenors, mezosopranos and altos who have a field day with some fetching sequences to match the music and one particular shot of the camera zooming into the first floor room of the soprano. Another cute sequence is Vitik, a leading soprano giving a tooth-brush to the woman in a shower, not once but repeatedly.
It is in these little nuances that Lifetime Achievement award winner Jiri Menzel comes across very strongly. He also doesn’t hesitate to take a dig at the Soviet occupation and the scant respect they paid to the arts and hence their music practices are held in an abandoned theatre. There is also referehnce to the Soviet tanks rolling into Prague in 1968 to depose Alexanfre Dubchec.
Weaving his way between the various characters Menzel does not waste footage and the good mix of humour and music helps hold the viewer’s attention span like some films where one waits longly for the end. And it all ends in just 100 minutes. Cinema at its best.
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