The 53rd IFFI with its glitz and glamour has descended upon Goa and in Panaji in particular. The city appears extra busy in the morning with the traffic not abating in the evening as well. In this chaotic ambience, the multi-coloured lights that bedazzle the premises set up for IFFI turn our minds to the days when the cinema meant more than just movies.
Panaji looks spectacular at night, and as one cuts through Campal, sights and sounds mingle to conjure up vivid imagery to fascinate the human mind.
Thousands attended the opening ceremony; thousands more will watch the films being screened, and there will be even more who will try to make the most of the film festival that was a no-show for two years because of the pandemic.
“To be an artist, you don’t have to compose music or paint, or be in the movies, or write books. It’s just a way of living. It has to do with paying attention, remembering, filtering what you see and answering back, participating in life,” actor Viggo Mortensen once said, and his words kept flashing back as emotions changing like the variance of the coloured lights through the first day of the festival.
Organisers of IFFI, it looks from atop, walked the extra mile to bring IFFI out of its two-year stupor by decking it with features that did not exist in the past, and these may end up beneficial to those married to the cinema or attempting to make the best during these eight days of fiesta. It may also just be a learning experience for a newcomer.
The two gardens skirting IFFI – the children’s park, or the officially called Bhagawan Mahavir Bal Vihar Park, and the Francisco Luís Gomes Garden in Campal have turned into cauldrons of activity with both vying to attract guests who have come to enjoy cinema on the big screen.
Cinema for many is about enjoying popcorn and cola while watching the twists and turns of life through a story laced with dance and drama, and it is never the same when watching in a homemade theatre. The romance begins when dressing up, sitting in a vehicle and chatting on the way to a theatre; and then discussing the moments, and sights and sounds on the way back home.
A walk into the garden honouring the great Goan Francisco Luís Gomes brought into focus attempts by some to take visitors through the heritage of Goa – through what one might expect to be vestiges of the past.
The Goa Heritage Festival held at Campal added colour to the walk along Campal, but it appeared devoid of any Goan heritage. A Goan will have seen his heritage represented through a kiosk. Roofs in the past were made of thatched roofs and bamboo. None could be seen in the heritage village in Campal.
Sausage bread is still considered to be built into the gastronomic DNA of Goa, and despite being served in the village, the pricing seemed out of the economic zone of many Goans, who would have loved to have spoilt themselves in a pavilion that was broadcasting Goa’s heritage.
There were some stalls that sold paintings by artists and others that displayed Goan artefacts. There was a concert in Konkani one evening, and there were evenings when musicians from Goa performed. Perhaps just having a festival minus the word heritage could have added a progressive touch to the film festival and saved time on a discussion of what is Goa’s heritage and what is not.
The stall at the children’s park amused the kids. For a change, there was a lot the kids could do and their parents too. As the day’s progress and tempo picked up, Panjimites will have seen and heard enough, till the curtains come down on the festival and the action spills over to Old Goa, where heritage does abound and does not need to be cashed in on.