The 7th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) kicked off to a great start on Thursday. This year the Festival has been dedicated to Bharat Ratna Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. Admiring Bhimsenji as a ‘Bharat Ratna in the true sense of the term’ and Pune as a great place for showcasing Indian culture, Minister of State for External Affairs & Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Anand Sharma inaugurated PIFF at the grand Ganesh Kala Krida Manch. “PIFF is a notable festival offering a great platform not just to international and national filmmakers, but also to the young and budding filmmakers in the city and the state,” he said. Saying that the festival is not only for the city or the state, but for the entire country, Sharma said the government is ready to support this annual event whenever required.
The festival began with a tribute by Shrinivas Joshi, son and disciple of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. “I am thankful to the organisers and all of you for dedicating this festival to my father,” Joshi said before performing the ‘Puria Dhanashree’ raga and the abhang ‘Deva Vitthala’ to a loud applause. A special film on Bhimsenji was screened on the occasion.
The inauguration ceremony was marked by the presence of well-known personalities including filmstars, national and international filmmakers and political and social leaders among others. Present on the occasion were Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal, State cultural Minister Harshavardhan Patil, Chairman of Festival and Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi, Pune Mayor Rajlaxmi Bhosale, Director of PIFF Jabbar Patel and Sabina-Sanghvi, Film stars Sulochana, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Randhir Kapoor, actress Tabu, Mohan Agashe, and also film makers like Girish Kasaravalli and Alan Corneau, who is also the part of the Jury.
This year the PIFF Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Sulochana didi, Shashi Kapoor and Hema Malini. “I’m overwhelmed and do not know what to say. I thank all of you for this honour and the love showered on me,” said a visibly emotional Sulochana.
While Actor Randhir Kapoor thanked the organisers on behalf of Shashi Kapoor, he also expressed gratitude for remembering his father Raj Kapoor through a retrospective.
“I am honoured to be receiving this award on a stage on which I have been performing for many years. Instead of taking a backseat after being honoured, I intend to continue my association with Cinema and the stage,” a gracious Hema Malini said after receiving the award.
In his speech, Suresh Kalmadi talked about the city gaining global recognition thanks to the success of Commonwealth Youth Games and also spoke about the plans to introduce a special sports section at the PIFF next year in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi. “I also request the honourable ministers present here to make PIFF the official film festival of Maharashtra,” he added.
Jabbar Patel also spoke on the occasion and thanked everyone for making PIFF a huge success for the last seven years.