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International Film Festival of India 2016

The rising popularity of Goan cinema

How do locally made films fare at the International Film Festivalof India, asks Sachin Chatte.

November 20, 2016 12:00 am | Updated December 02, 2016 04:40 pm IST

common journey:K Sera Sera, the only Konkani film at IFFI this year, depicts two characters linked by their search for peace and tranquility.— photo: special arrangement

common journey:K Sera Sera, the only Konkani film at IFFI this year, depicts two characters linked by their search for peace and tranquility.— photo: special arrangement

Goa has played host to the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) since 2004, when it was permanently moved to the State, which is popular more as a tourist destination than anything else. IFFI is Asia’s oldest film festival. In the last decade or so, there has been a surge of films produced in Goa. One of the prime reasons for this is the film festival.

How do the locally made films fare at festivals, particularly IFFI? In terms of numbers, in the last 13 years, 11 Goan films have made it to the Indian Panorama. This is an impressive number considering there are 20-odd films in the Panorama every year.

More so because even the best of regional cinema doesn’t find too many takers, in commercial terms, and in Goa, the going is even tougher as the State’s population is barely 1.4 million. That is, less than the combined population of Andheri East and West.

It is laudable, then, that a film-maker like Rajendra Talak, who has made five films since 2004, has had all of them screened at IFFI. Long before mining became a dirty word, Talak dealt with the story in Aleesha, screened at the first IFFI in Goa in 2004. Subsequently, Antarnaad (2006), about a daughter trying to break away from the shadow of her mother, and (2008), an Internet-based love story, were shown at the festival. Talak also made the prescient O’ Maria (2010), which revolved around land being sold to outsiders, long before property prices shot through the roof in Goa.

Director Laxmikant Shetgaonkar won laurels with Paltadcho Munis , a film that won The Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery at Toronto in 2009. It was also the opening film of the Indian Panorama at IFFI that year. Prior to that, his Marathi film Eka Sagar Kinare was in the non-feature section in Panorama in 2005. His last film, Baga Beach (2013), dealt with child abuse and trafficking, something for which the State has unfortunately gained notoriety.

Like most regional cinema, Goan films also rely on telling human stories with compelling sincerity and simplicity. Dnyanesh Moghe’s Digant (2012) about the life of a shepherd was not only selected at IFFI, it was also the first Konkani film at the Mumbai film festival.

Bardroy Barreto’s period film Nachom-ia-Kumpasar, about the golden era of Konkani music, won hearts at festivals around the globe and not surprisingly, it was a popular film at IFFI as well. Interestingly, Palomi Ghosh, who won a special mention at the National Awards in 2015 for Nachom-ia , also features in K Sera Sera , the only Konkani film at IFFI this year.

Directed by Rajiv Shinde, a teacher at the Goa Arts College, K Sera Sera is one of the more accomplished feature films made in the State. Written by Shinde himself, it has two parallel stories, one of a ruthless career-driven corporate woman (played by Ghosh) who struggles to find solace in her personal life, and the other of an elderly man (Rajesh Pednekar) on the verge on retirement. Even though their paths don’t really cross and their lives are contrasting in many ways, they are both engaged in a common search for peace and tranquility. Pednekar, a vaastu consultant by profession and one of the finest actors in State, has also produced the film — a bold move considering that commercially it is a risky proposition to produce a regional film. But creatively, the effort seems to have paid off as the film has also been selected for the Dhaka International Film Festival 2017.

Sainath Parab may have missed the IFFI bus, but his debut feature Disha was selected for the recently concluded Kolkata Film Festival. This Marathi film is about a software engineer working on an interactive operating system for the visually impaired. He falls in love with a blind girl (impressively played by Prajakta Wadaye). Whether it is love or a desire to be close to his subject for professional reasons, the film delves into that delicate but vital strand of life: relationships.

It is noteworthy here that Goa makes films in two regional languages: Konkani and Marathi. Few States in the country have that singularity. Till recently, there was no formal film school in Goa and most filmmakers in the State are self-taught. Parab, for instance, had dabbled in theatre, television production and made corporate films before making a foray into feature films. Given their background, these film-makers have come a long way since Sukhi Konn, the first full-length feature film in Konkani, which was produced in 1949 but never released.

The author is a freelance writer based in Goa

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