Utpal Borpujari

January 23, 2015

Once IFFI usher Bajpayee opens Indian Panorama at IFFI

By Utpal Borpujari

Panaji: He was once an usher at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) when it used to be held in New Delhi. Since then, he has come a long way. Today, that usher was the chief guest at the opening of the Indian Panorama section of the 45th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. He is Manoj Bajpayee, National Award winning actor, whose performance in films like Satya, Gangs of Wasseypur and Pinjar have wooed cross section of audiences.

Today, at the ceremony, Bajpayee recalled how he used to long for those ten days of IFFI in Delhi and to work as an usher. “The idea was to sneak in some breaks amidst the duty as an usher boy to watch some great films. That’s where I began,” Bajpayee said inaugurating the section that started off with Shabnam Sukhdev’s documentary The Last Adieu on her father, the legendary documentary filmmaker S Sukhdev, and Paresh Mokashi’s roller coaster children’s drama, the Marathi feature film “Elizabeth Ekadashi”.

Bajpayee’s Satya was a huge hit in the 1998 IFFI, before the film took Bajpayee to instant stardom in his role as underworld goon Bhiku Mhatre after years of struggle as a theatre actor in Delhi and then as a TV/film actor in Mumbai. He later won a National Award for Chandra Prakash Dwivedi’s Pinjar. Incidentally, in Dwivedi’s new film Zed Plus, Assam’s own Adil Hussain plays the lead role.

“My journey of becoming a film actor started at IFFI in Delhi. I was more excited about the films which were screened at the festival than the money I got for my job. I would often sneak into a theatre and watch some of the great films,” said Bajpayee

Bajpayee, lauding filmmakers like Mokashi, said, “I understand how difficult it is in the time of commercialisation to make one film. IFFI has done a great job in promoting Indian filmmakers.”

Appreciating the actor’s words, IFFI director Shankar Mohan said Indian Panorama has been the most prestigious platform for Indian filmmakers over the years. “Filmmakers like Jahnu Barua, Shaji N Karun, Goutam Ghose have all been discovered and rediscovered in Indian Panorama,” he said.

Later, eminent director-cinematographer A K Bir, who chaired the feature film jury, said the criteria of the jury was to select the finest of Indian cinema without looking at the languages and regions they represented. “Cinema as an art has no language barriers and is a creative representation of reality. Cinema as a medium of expression empowers common man with sensibility through entertainment,” he said. “In choosing the films, our jury did not go by the aural background, but went by the language of cinema.”

The Indian Panorama this year has four entries from Northeast India: feature films “Ri’ (the first Khasi film ever to enter Indian Panorama) directed by Pradip Kurbah, and “Othello” (Assamese) by Hemanta Kumar Das, short fiction film “A Dream Never Dies” (Assamese) directed by Aniesha Sharma and documentary “Songs of the Blue Hills” by this author.

(Published in Eastern Chronicle, http://www.easternchronicle.net; 22-11-2014)

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