46th IFFI at Goa opens with voices of dissent

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It was a surreal moment. The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Goa, would have ideally ended on a note of shabba khair,had it not been for the Information & Broadcasting Ministry’s ‘perennial headache’, the FTII students. Though the students had ended their strike earlier, they had vowed to continue their protest against the government. Even before the fest had begun, rumours on the student’s plans at conducting a protest at the venue were on the cards. Fearing a disruption, the Chief Minister of Goa, Laxmikanth Yashwanth Parsekar, had pleaded to the FTII students to abstain from protesting in the morning. Stating that he was willing to talk to the protesting students, Parsekar had asked the students to not ‘dampen’ the ‘spirit ‘of the festival. However, the students were resolute. Grabbing onto a moment of silence that followed celebrity Anil Kapoor’s performance, two FTII students, Kishlay and Shubham, stood up, and raised slogans against Information & Broadcasting Minister, Arun Jaitley. Standing up in the gallery, the duo continued raising slogans even as the security guards ushered the students out of the auditorium.

The IFFI inaugural evening had started off with the usual festivities, a grand opening ceremony presided by the Information & Broadcasting Minister, Arun Jaitley, Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, Information & Broadcasting Minister of State, Rajyavardhan Rathore. Anil Kapoor, the Bollywood actor and star was the chief guest of the occasion. Also at the venue were actors Sonakshi Sinha and Dev Patel. Along with Kapoor’s on-the-spot performance, music director, Illaiyaraja, this year’s centennial award recipient, also performed on stage. It was towards the end of the evening that the students began raising slogans.

After actor Anil Kapoor had presented music maestro Illairaja with the centennial award, Kapoor was asked to stay back and perform. Dancing to ‘Dhak Dhak’ and ‘My name is Lakhan’, Kapoor enthralled the audience, and left them in splits. Following his performance and speech, after the applause had died down, the students began raising slogans. Initially, the crowd, along with Kapoor, thought that the students were cheering Kapoor for his performance; it was once the sounds of the ‘Jaitley go back’ slogan began ringing, that the anchors, actors Ayushman Khurrana and Aditi Rao Hydari tried deflecting the slogans and continuing with the programme.

However, none of the anchors could drown the slogans or divert the attention of the audience until the protestors were ushered out by the security guards. Now, FTII students have alleged that the protesters were taken into police custody, and beaten black and blue for registering their protest against the government. The protestors are now looking for lawyers .

MOS I & B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, said that, “in a previous interview, Arun Jaitley had reiterated how we should  be careful with how we portray India at an International venue though it was small protest of two.”

Meanwhile, in a press  release issued later by the Students’ Association FTII, described the show at the IFFI inaugural as “the complete pseudo glorification of Indian cinema by this Ministry who have no understanding or appreciation of art and cinema of this country. The false presentation, false pride, and hope for Indian cinema in the future, presented by the same Ministers who have appointed their chauvinistic puppets with zero credibility in FTII, the premier film school of the country could not be accepted, and was seen as highly condemnable”.

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