New Delhi: "Nothing on 'Padmavati'," that's what IFFI steering committee and censor board member Vani Tripathi Tikoo said as she sat down for an interview, in which she disclosed how the film extravaganza is poised to be "for the people and by the people".
The ongoing 48th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has made headlines not only for the films and star presence, but also for the wrong reasons.
The discussion around the exclusion of "S Durga" and "Nude" from IFFI's Indian Panorama section and the ripple effect of the protests against the release of "Padmavati", became a highlight of the movie jamboree.
But keeping the negativity aside, Vani pointed out how the fest has attracted the biggest delegation and began on a good note.
"Dissent is important. I don't call it negativity. There are points of views and opinions. It is important, and everybody is entitled to have an opinion. I think the industry engagement is the largest this time in the festival. Rest, I dare not say anything," Vani told IANS here on the sidelines of IFFI.
Asked whether Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's film "S Durga" will be screened at the festival, as ordered by the Kerala High Court, Vani said: "I have no idea. I am part of the steering committee. The film was in Indian Panorama. I wasn't part of the (that) jury."
Despite the boycott calls by several celebrities, the festival opened on November 20 in Bollywood style in the presence of superstar Shah Rukh Khan. A glitzy ceremony is being planned for the closing as well with Bollywood's "Sultan" Salman Khan coming in. Stars like Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra will also join the closing gala on November 28.
Talking about the current edition of the festival, Vani said: "It is huge, it is grand... It is probably one of the biggest editions in so many years. We have a huge delegation, and have crossed six or seven thousand delegates.
"There is brilliant representation of cinema from the whole country. What tends to happen is that we forget that it is not only Hindi film festival but Tamil, Telugu and Malayali.
"Indian Panorama section is a great diaspora. We have a great master coming in. Shekhar Kapur is flying for one day for a master class, and then we have Academy Award and BAFTA winning sound recordist and mixer Craig Mann."
Vani said the focus is also on cinema literacy.
"We are the largest cinema producing country in the world and we have responsibility that we should also educate people in the craft and the business of creativity."
What does the future hold?
"This should become a festival where people come and make films," she said, adding that the intent of the fest is to be "for the people and by the people".
(Sugandha Rawal's trip to Goa is at the invitation of the IFFI organisers. She can be contacted at email@example.com)