“I Cannot Be Taken for Granted”




This year, there have been over fourteen thousand delegates registered at the 50th edition of the International Films Festival of India (IFFI), out of which senior citizens account for a little more than a thousand. Many of these are regulars – first hand witnesses to the evolution of IFFI, a few of whom shared their views with The Peacock.
Deeply engrossed in a book, we found sixty-seven-year-old KPA Samad from Kerala, who’s been attending the festival since 1988. “I come here every year, and now it’s hard to watch people as old as me – or older than me – coming so early to book tickets, and stand in long queues. But tthe films are very good so it’s worth it. The volunteers are very intelligent, very cooperative and very courteous – I’m very happy about that.”
Seventy-one-year-old Dr. Santwana Bardoloi is another regular at the festival, who was more than happy to tell us about the evolution of IFFI since its very first edition in Goa, in the last two years we’ve seen many major improvements. I’m especially happy about the removal of rush lines – they were so chaotic. You can also see that the character of the audience has changed. People are so aware of the films they are watching. I think that’s fantastic. I feel happy when I see older people like me here. You see people who can barely walk – so dedicated to watching and appreciating good films.”
With a bit of advice for the organizers, Rajan Naik, a sixty-eight year old retiree from Panjim says, “I booked my ticket for a movie called “Bridge”, the schedule said that it would be 78 minutes long, but it was actually a short film of 18 minutes. I missed one film because of this. This should never happen again.” Meanwhile, Snehalata Bhatikar, a feisty woman of seventy-eight, also has some peeves, “they did not think of the senior citizens when they planned the online system – not everyone is tech savvy. Also, on the second day, I saw that the boards and the tapes that separate the lines had fallen. Nobody seemed to care, so I got the tapes myself and made them set up the boards again.”
Bhatikar feels more accommodation should be made for the seniormost cinephiles. She told us, “Why don’t they let us use the bathrooms after the movies? Some senior citizens have illnesses, they want to go to the bathrooms after the films. They’re pushed back, and I have to physically stop them from pushing us. After the films are over, we have to navigate through a very dark theatre. A lot of us have vision problems, there’s a high stage, there are steps, it’s so easy to miss a step and fall. I’ve had to hold people back and warn them – there could have been so many injuries. I am from Goa; that’s why it hurts so much more. This is my place, and there’s so much potential.”


Read more from The Peacock: Issue 9 (2019) here: