The 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) kick-started in Goa with the inaugural ceremony today graced by the who’s who of the international film fraternity. The superstar of Indian film industry, Akshay Kumar made the ceremony more memorable with his presence, and the surprise entry of Sonu Sood with some groovy dance moves made the congestion of the ceremony more exciting.

The nine-day film festival began with the bang at the Goa’s famous Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium. Besides Akshay Kumar the other Indian film industry celebrities who marked their presence were, Randhir Kapoor, Subhash Ghai, Lulian Landais, Madhur Bhandarkar, Arijit Singh, Ramesh Sippy and more.

The festival will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries which consist of 2 World Premieres, 16 Academy Award-nominated films, 6 Indian rare language films, 3 Indian films competing with 15 international films for the Golden and Silver Peacock awards, and many more interesting elements.

India is a land of storytellers where every person has a story to tell: Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore at IFFI 2018 Opening Ceremony

The anchors, Mandira Bedi, and Amit Sadh captured the pulse of people with their charismatic dialogues and it kept entertaining the crowd till the end of the show.    

The faces that were flashing on the screen during the entire show includes Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Randhir Kapoor, Prasoon Joshi, Julien Landais, Barbara Meier, Nicolas Hau, Lois Robbins, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Robert Glinski, Tom Fitzpatrick, Poonam Dhillon, Hrishita Bhatt, Madhur Bhandarkar, Subhash Ghai, Arijit Singh, Ramesh Sippy, Chin Han among many others.

Apart from this, a host of celebrities walked the red carpet, adding a sprinkle of glitz to the ceremony.    

Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that “India is a land of storytellers where every person has a story to tell. These stories inspire and entertain us. IFFI is a platform for our young generation to showcase their talent. It is a platform for international filmmakers to see India and explore the talent that we have. It is a great collaboration for both sides. It is incredible of the Information and Broadcasting team and Entertainment department of Goa to have an event on such a massive scale. There are Masterclasses held by experts in the entertainment industry and I hope the organization involved is putting it online so that it reaches everyone. We are focusing on the past, the present and the future. Showing films like Sholay and also content from OTT platforms. It is a lovely time to come to Goa since this year we are having street cinema open to the tourists who are visiting the state for the next 9 days and they can experience this at IFFI.” The Hon. Minister said this while walking the red carpet at the opening ceremony of 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa.

Followed by the speech of Mr. Rathore, the PWD and Transport Minister Mr. Sudin Dhavalikar took over the mike. Mr. Dhavalikar said that Goa is a state of colors and its effervescent culture and welcoming nature makes it a perfect destination to host IFFI. “The festival aims at providing a platform for cinema lovers and those from the field of art. At the 49th IFFI, I take this opportunity to thank Hon. CM of Goa, Manohar Parrikar who made sure that Goa got the privilege to host IFFI. He did not leave any stone unturned for its preparation since the first time it was hosted at Goa fifteen years ago.”

The star of the evening and Khiladi of the film industry Mr. Akshay Kumar flew down in a special charter plane to attend the opening ceremony of IFFI for few hours praised Mr. Rathore saying that he is doing an incredible job of clubbing the entertainment with education. “There are so many things happening in India in the entertainment industry. Our Minister Mr. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is doing an incredible job of combining entertainment and education. It is very important to have films which have substance and meaning behind it. I am very thankful to the government that because of such films and initiatives there are lakhs of villages who get information free of cost and trigger massive positive changes,” he said.

The ceremony which began with the medley dance performances captured the attention of the audience and kept them mesmerizing throughout the sequence of the songs from some of the best Indian films depicting the country’s vibrant history.

The versatile singer Shilpa Rao sang popular songs from across the country in multiple languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi and a beautiful rendition of the timeless, “Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo.” Actor Sonu Sood then took over and set the stage on fire with his dance skills.    

The most interesting part of the IFFI 2018 opening ceremony was the live show of Coffee with Karan (without the coffee) on the stage with an informal chat between the three luminaries on stage – Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Union Minister of State for I&B), actor Mr Akshay Kumar and filmmaker Karan Johar. Karan Johar engaged the Minister and Akshay Kumar in an informal chat on sports and cinema and their journey through their careers.        

Akshay Kumar spoke about his performance as the manager of the Indian Hockey Team in the recently released Gold a film based on India’s historic gold medal win at the 1948 Summer Olympics. Gold is one of the sports-based films also screening at IFFI this year as a part of the Sports Biopics section. The Minister spoke about how Indian sportsmen and women are excelling at the international level today and stressed the importance of cinema in building a vibrant sports culture.

The opening ceremony reached to its climax by honoring the Israeli master craftsman Dan Wolman with the Lifetime Achievement Award. While speaking at the occasion, Mr. Wolman said, “Thank you for honoring me with the Lifetime Achievement Award which is the highest award that I have ever received. It is sweeter because I am receiving it in India – a country whose people, culture and phenomenal cinema I truly admire. This year IFFI has chosen to focus on Israeli cinema. I am glad the films selected for this reflect the range of Israeli cinema. There is chemistry between India and Israel. I hope this chemistry manifests in co-productions and collaborations in cinema.”

HERE IS THE LIST OF CELEBRITIES VISITED THE IFFI OPENING CEREMONY

Karan Johar

Akshay Kumar

Prasoon Joshi

Ramesh Sippy

Kiran Juneja

Subhash Ghai

Arijit Singh

Chin Han

Julian Landais

Barbara Meier

Nicholas Hau

Lois Robbins

Madhur Bhandarkar

Siddharth Roy Kapoor

Rakesh Omprakash Mehra

Major Ravi (Jury member)

Rahul Rawail

Robert Glinski

Tom Fitzpatrick

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

Hrishitaa Bhatt

Randhir Kapoor

Poonam Dhillon

Here is how the celebrities expressed their happiness with the media persons on the red carpet of the glittering ceremony.

“IFFI is a very inspiring place and it is a great place for people who worship art and it is a place that showcases high-quality cinema from across the world.” – Arijit Singh

“There is a lot to do in Indian cinema now. There are several platforms now available which is a good thing. We have a digital revolution happening in the country. There is lot of content in the digital space, now all we have to do is empower our writers. Akshay Kumar is one of our megastars and has taken consistently pushed meaningful cinema along with a commercial cinema. There is substance as well as an inspiring message in his films. Other stars should also do such socially entertaining films.” – Karan Johar

“There are so many things happening in India in the entertainment industry. Our Minister Mr. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is doing an incredible job of combining entertainment and education. It is very important to have films which have substance and meaning behind it. Because of such films and initiative, there are lakhs of villages who get information free of cost and there are massive changes through it.” – Akshay Kumar 

“I am very happy that our cinema is recognized globally. Our content is getting the exposure on the world stage. We are thankful for the love my family receives and the appreciation my brothers, uncle and everyone gets. Hope to contribute more to the Indian industry.” – Randhir Kapoor 

“I am very optimistic that there are various platforms available now – be it the big screen, television, digital and OTT platforms. Now it is our task to create ideas and quality content. The quality shouldn’t be hampered in the process. We have always been a strong VFX supplier to the international market. Our future for VFX and animation is bright and we should optimise it.” – Siddharth Roy Kapoor

“Happy to be a part of IFFI. Congratulations to the entire team of IFFI to have such a massive event at a world-class level. There are amazing films featured and shown at Indian Panaroma, some exciting masterclasses to look forward to. I have been part of IFFI since the days of Chandni Bar and continue to be a part of it.” – Madhur Bhandarkar

“IFFI is a great platform and it grows more and more every year. It is tremendous that regional films are getting recognition and have a platform to showcase. There is one film from Ladakh and another from Lakshadweep. That’s great for any cinema lover.” – Rahul Rawail 

“I am a bit nervous since I am also a part of International Jury this year. Each movie is outstanding and it is difficult to say which one is better. I am a great admirer of V Shantaram’s work and I have learnt from him how one can combine commercial success with artistic expression.” – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

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