SRK innaugrates 38th IFFI event at Goa

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was unquestionably the star attraction at the opening ceremony of the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here Friday at which it was decided to give the life time achievement awards to two living legends - thespian Dilip Kumar and India's nightingale Lata Mangeshkar.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, making the announcement of the two awards, said in a year when India is celebrating 60 years of independence, the ministry was making a special effort. "Nobody is going to object to these two names, and we are going to give the lifetime achievement awards to Lata Mangeshkar and Dilip Kumar," he said.

He also said that a new convention hall in Goa would be built and remain the main venue for the festival.

Shah Rukh Khan, riding high on his two back-to-back hits "Chak De! India" and "Om Shanti Om", was the chief guest at the inaugural. Dressed in a black suit and his now trademark ponytail, Shah Rukh got a huge applause when he came up on the stage, which was designed simply and elegantly with the IFFI logo in the background.

Khan took a pot shot at those who are objecting to his presence at cricket matches alleging that he was using them as a platform to promote his films.

"I'm not only promoting hockey, but cricket too. I will be there for football matches too Mr. Dashmusi whenever you invite me," he said smiling.

However, the ever effervescent and witty actor was not his usual self. But as they say, old habits die hard and he did get humorous at the time of lighting the lamp.

Dasmunsi broached the new multiplex culture catching on in the country, saying it was alienating the common people from cinema.

"Speaking in a conventional term, it is the have-nots who make icons. Their passion for cinema turns an actor into an icon. We often see Shah Rukh Khan surrounded with his elite friends and posing for pictures but the common people never get such opportunities," said the minister.

Toeing Dasmunsi's line, Shah Rukh said: "Lets dedicate the 38th International Film Festival of India to ordinary people."

Shah Rukh also dedicated the festival to "freedom from loneliness". He said that cinema not only entertains people but also relieves them from tension and gives them company.

Keeping the size of the Kala Accademy in mind, limited invites were issued for the inaugural ceremony.

Commenting on that, the minister said: "All my friends were asking why can't we come and meet Shah Rukh Khan and I told them that the convention hall can accommodate only 920 people. However, on behalf of Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat I have promised them that very soon we will have a bigger hall. And I request Shah Rukh Khan to inaugurate it."

Dasmunsi said he is determined to keep Goa as the main venue for festival.

"Since I have arrived here, I have been hearing a lot of gossip on will Goa be the permanent venue or not. Let me make it clear that Goa will continue to be the venue for IFFI. Anything new takes time to establish."

Also present at the function were Neelam Kapur, director of the film festival, G.S. Mayawala, president of the Film Federation of India, and "Paruthiveeran" star Priyamani.

Indo-Asian News Service