AN OPENING CEREMONY WITH A DIFFERENCE
By Impana Kulkarni
A nearly empty auditorium, a grand opening ceremony with hardly any celebrities, a film festival’s inaugural celebration with a greater strength of police force than film people – the 51st International Film Festival of India’s opening ceremony will certainly be remembered! In ordinary times, these occurrences would have been appalling. But not this year. With a pandemic and large-scale deaths looming over our heads, even conducting a Film Festival is a matter of great concern. In such a situation, a toned-down opening ceremony is commendable.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s entry kick-started the evening’s line-up of pragammes. Mrs Neerja Sekhar, additional Secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, briefed the viewers on the list of films curated for this year. Many actors and film-makers from the industry including Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Ranveer Singh, sent in their wishes through video bytes – the only ‘film-star experience’ of the evening for most people at the auditorium, aside from the presence of Chief Guest Kiccha Sudeep and the event host Tisca Chopra. A heartwarming selection of Goan songs and dances followed next. Goa’s much adored singer Sonia Shirsat filled the emptiness with her rich voice, accompanied by vibrant dancers all swaying to songs like ‘Ge ge saiba’. Traditional folk dances like Diwli Naach, Ghodemodni and Goff had almost everybody in the audience humming or swaying, an audience almost entirely comprised of locals – staff and security. For performers to dance to cameras placed far away streaming live, but to an empty hall, must have been a different experience.
Though still a large gathering of people, with adequate social distancing and face-masks on, everyone working for this ceremony have certainly put in efforts to maintain the safety protocol, if not for their health, atleast to follow orders. The paucity of events through the pandemic left many people jobless – from venue owners, light and sound providers, and stage décor companies to performers, transport crews etc. An event like this will certainly help prop up many Goan families economically.