ATITHI DEVO BHAVA
We’re at the last day of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), and I have to confess I’m feeling withdrawal symptoms already. I have felt so many varied emotions these last 10 days, primarily among them a sense of history and pride in being associated with the oldest and most significant film festival in Asia. It is not easy to keep a festival of this scale and magnitude going strong for 50 years. While I have attended IFFI previously, as a film delegate, this is the first time I have actually been working here, as a columnist for The Peacock, and been more deeply involved. I have to admit, it has been an eye opening experience to see the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes and the tremendous amount of energy and commitment required to pull off a festival like this.
I have also actually felt responsible in my own small way as contributing to the overall experience of IFFI being a warm and welcoming place to share the love of cinema. And I felt the true spirit of atithi devo bhava as I shared tips about Goa with foreign guests, wanting them to experience Goa in the best way possible. The spirit of inclusion and diversity with so many people at one place makes the experience of being here a very special one. And emerging from some of the heart-rending movies that we collectively view and feel, helps to bring out the best in people I think. Amongst all the millenials at IFFI this year I saw two elderly ladies being helped along in their wheelchairs and it truly warmed my heart. I heard the story of how a member of the audience – a gentleman in his 80s – was loudly celebrated at the beginning of a film for never missing the Festival and attending IFFI for 50 years in a row! The camaraderie at that theatre was unbelievable.
Of course, there have been glitches and complaints galore. Of course things could be better and smoother. But, my experience of being a part of IFFI as ‘an insider’ has been wonderful. And I always believe anywauy that you should focus on the positives – the fun of sharing snacks and a uniting team spirit in The Peacock newsroom and enjoying all the characters that walk in. After all, as the title of the iconoclastic artist Bhupen Khakhar’s seminal 1981 painting states, You Can’t Please All.
Illustration by Oriana Fernandez. You can follow her work on instagram.com/oriana_fernandez_/
Read more from The Peacock: Issue 9 (2019) here: