The second day at IFFI, 22nd November 2018, had perhaps the busiest schedule of masterclass and panel discussions. The highlight of the day, undoubtedly, was a session that most of the fans were eagerly waiting for – a panel discussion titled, ‘Konversation with the Kapoors’ moderated by Rumi Jaffery with Producer Boney Kapoor and his children, actors Arjun Kapoor and Janhvi Kapoor. However, Arjun Kapoor couldn’t be present due to his commitments towards his upcoming film, Panipat.
The conversation began with Boney’s take on the film industry and the changes that he has seen over the years. Boney said, “The current times are our film industry’s diamond era. There is much discipline in place, unlike the earlier times. The business has become more streamlined. The reach of our films also has grown multifold. Earlier, we used to release our films across 50-60 screens in the country, in addition to maybe 10-15 screens outside the country. Now, for example, Thugs Of Hindostan was released across 7000 screens worldwide. I foresee Indian films being screened in almost 10,000 screens soon.” Boney, however, admitted that a shortage of good writers has been plaguing the industry for long, and continues to do so.
Soon, the spotlight was on Janhvi Kapoor who looked gorgeous dressed impeccably in a white gown. When asked on her observations in the industry and the changes from the current generation’s point of view, Jahnvi, without mincing her words, said, “The acting and storytelling of the films in the Golden Era were far ahead of the current times. We are stuck in the commercial trap; the freedom in storytelling was more before. Also, India has had a history of women-oriented films across the years but never did we have this practice of stereotyping or giving tags to films, such as ‘female-centric’ or ‘women oriented’, like we do now.”
Boney, whose real name is Achal Kapoor, went in flashback mode, trying to narrate how his and Anil Kapoor’s journey in films began. After acting together in a play in their college days, the brothers soon knew that only one of them could continue acting and the other could follow his passion behind the scenes. Boney being the older brother chose the latter. The producer of films such as Wanted, Tevar and many more blockbusters, however, admitted that he plans to don the directors’ hat again soon.
Having a conversation with the Kapoor family without the mention of Sridevi is simply impossible, and the moderator did a fine job of broaching the topic with sensitivity. While acknowledging the void created by her absence, a teary-eyed Boney in a voice choked with emotion said, “Nobody is as complete as her as an actor. It would have been nice to have her with us to see her receive the National Award.”
An articulate Jahnvi described the past year that has been a mixed bag of emotions – the year caused the irreversible demise of her mother Sridevi, and also marked her own debut in the film industry with the Hindi remake of Marathi blockbuster, Sairat. Jahnvi said, “The year has been about tremendous personal growth. The worst and the best – both the things have happened to me in the past one year. But I’m extremely pleased with the fact that our family is complete now. About my mother’s loss – we are still in shock and haven’t been able to process it yet. But we are thankful for the love we have received. I just want to entertain you all and aspire to win your love.” The actress also recited a heartfelt poem penned down in the memory of her beloved mother.
Boney acknowledged that nothing makes him happier than to see his children come together as a family. The producer was overwhelmed with emotion, choking as he said this.
The young actress who will soon be seen in her next film, Takht, said that she would love to act in a remake of the classic film Khamoshi starring Waheeda Rehman and Rajesh Khanna, for the sheer acting prowess displayed by Waheeda Rehman in the climax scene of the film. Takht is a period film starring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, and Anil Kapoor. The film is being produced by Karan Johar.
Arijit Singh at his Masterclass
The focus then shifted to Maquinez Palace where the stage was set for a masterclass with one of the most sought-after playback singer of current times, Arijit Singh. The session titled, ‘Hitting The Right Notes With Arijit Singh’ saw a packed house full of fans of the versatile singer who were optimistic of hearing their favourite icon croon to some of his popular songs. And the singer did not disappoint.
The session, however, started off with Arijit talking about his musical journey, right from the time he started learning classical music to the point where he participated in the reality show Fame Gurukul, followed by a contract with TIPS. The rest is, of course, is well-known history.
When asked by one of the audience members about the possibility of Indian classical music going mainstream, Arijit was quick to dismiss the notion. Arijit said, “Indian Classical music cannot be mainstream. It is not meant for entertainment, but for transforming thoughts, for concentration and meditation. It is an internal process that equips us to deal with the external world.”
The versatile singer spoke at length about his feature film that marks his debut as a film director at IFFI 2018. Arijit said, “We started work on the film with a lot of pride and ambition. But we made a lot of rookie mistakes. We used to wander with the DSLR shooting whatever we liked. We did this for a year and a half and ended up at the processing desk with a lot of raw footage. We did our best but the end product was not up to the mark.”
Arijit said that the team went back with the lessons learnt and started working on the script. Arijit said, “After working for about two and half years, we can say that we are somewhat happy with the result. We have been patient and we are sure that the lessons learnt will be implemented in our next film.” Arijit clarified that the team does not have a release plan for the film Sa.
The story of the film has written by Arijit’s wife, Koyel Singh and also features his son playing a pivotal role.
Pankaj Tripathi, Rahul Bose, Divya Dutta and Rajshri Deshpande at IFFI 2018
The day began early at Kala Academy with some of the country’s best actors – the talented Divya Dutta, Rahul Bose, Rajshri Deshpande, Pankaj Tripathi – who in the recent past has tasted tremendous critical and commercial success with his work in films like Stree, Bareilly Ki Barfi, and web series like Sacred Games and Mirzapur – and filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda engage in a conversation with cinematographer and producer Aseem Bajaj.
The session titled, ‘Redefining Stories’ saw the panelists take turns to narrate their personal stories, of their journey into the world of cinema. The topic then made way for a conversation on the changes in Indian cinema over the years. Actress Divya Dutta said, “Now roles are being written for characters that have substance. When Veer Zaara was offered to me, Aditya Chopra had told me that I will never regret doing the supporting role. After the success of that film, people started noticing me and I started getting roles that were beautiful but were not lead.” She further added, “Now roles are being written for all the actors. It is a time to cherish. Films are being made with stories from the heartland, from smaller towns of India. Pankaj Tripathi is a great example of being a heartland star. Things are moving away from the cliché.”
Using his film Poorna as an example, Rahul Bose said, “The story of a 13 yr old – the youngest girl to climb the Mt Everest, had every predictable beat of a mainstream film. Yet the film sank in B towns. It broke my heart. We realized that India, apart from a few metro cities, is not interested in a mainstream film without a face. As a producer, I will never make a film, however mainstream, without a face.” Aseem Bajaj, in agreement, said, “We celebrate mediocrity. Let’s get out of it.”
Pankaj Tripathi, a brilliant actor but a man of few words, summed up his story in a line saying – “The fact that a person like me is on the panel to discuss ‘Redefining Stories’, in itself is an example of a story redefined.”
Honorable Governor at the screening of Bhor
Her Excellency, Mridula Sinha, Governor of Goa made her presence felt at the screening of the film Bhor directed by Kamakhya Narayan Singh.
At the occasion, Her Excellency Mridula Sinha said, “The movie Bhor is a subject close to me since I have also written down a book Gharwas on the Musahar caste. I congratulate the director Kamakhya Narayan Singh and the whole team for making the film on this subject which enlightens us about the issues faced by the people from Musahar caste.”
On the premiere of the film Bhor, the Governor presented a signed copy of her book Gharwas to the director Kamakhya Narayan Singh.
Eight-time National Award winner Sreekar Prasad’s Masterclass
The audiences at IFFI 2018 enjoyed the golden opportunity of learning from eight-time National award-winning ace film editor Sreekar Prasad at a Masterclass titled, ‘A “Cut” above the Rest’. The veteran, who has a command over the pace of the story and tastefully edits, thereby designing the flow of the story. Mr Prasad admitted that he steers clear of following a typical editing pattern.
While speaking to the audience, Mr Prasad said, “It is imperative to get the narrative right and for that, it helps a great deal if the editor reads the script. Contrary to the practice a few decades ago, I now find myself involved right from the early stages of the production of a film.”
Red Carpet at IFFI 2018
The audiences at IFFI 2018 also got a glimpse of the cast and crew of the Malayalam film, Bhayanakam at the red carpet. Jairaj, the director of the film, said, “It is my 9th consecutive year at IFFI, next year it will be my 10th year. It will be a huge and big celebration then. The movie Bhayanakam is based on two eras – World War I and World War II. We are showing the agony of World War I. This is something which has not effectively documented. Even people from remote villages are now aware of this after watching the film. We are happy about that.”
The cast and crew of the film, Malai also walked the red carpet.
Inauguration of Sports Biopics section
The day also saw the inauguration of the Sports Biopics section, with the screening of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in the presence of the Director of the film, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, actress Divya Dutta and cine lovers of Goa at the Joggers’ Park in Altinho.
While speaking on the occasion, Mr Mehra said, “The concept of open screenings is very popular at international film festivals like Cannes and Locarno. The atmosphere is great. Watching the movie under the open sky is an amazing experience. It is a great initiative taken by our honorable Minister of Sports and I&B under Khelo India initiative.”
The 49th edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) began on 20th November 2018 and will go on till 28th November 2018, in Panjim, Goa.