Saeed Jaffrey gets lifetime achievement award at Pravasi Film Festival

NEW DELHI: Veteran actor Saeed Jaffrey was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in absentia at the first-ever Pravasi Film Festival in the country that concluded in Delhi today.

The feature ‘Life Goes on’ by Sangeeta Dutta from the United Kingdom bagged the award for the best feature film award at The short fiction ‘Shor’ by D K Krishna and Raj Nidimoru received the best short fiction award while ‘Flying Sikh’ by Navdeep Kandola got the best short non-fiction award. Both filmmakers come from the United States.

According to the feature film jury, ‘Life Goes on’ – which had been the opening film of the Festival - received the award for an emphatic rendition of characters and situations and heartfelt performances. Sangeeta Dutta was the only recipient who was present to receive her award.

A large number of eminent personalities were present at the function, which concluded with the screening of the film ‘Chehere’ by Rohit Kaushik starring Manisha Koirala and Divya Dutta among others.

Those present included Uttarakhand Chief Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal, Union Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Mauritian High Commissioner Mookeshwar Choonee, Mauritian Culture Minister Dr Vasant K Bunwaree, and Mauritian National Assembly Deputy Speaker Etienne Sinatambou.

Choonee expressed happiness that his country was a partner country for this Festival and hoped this would lead to some fruitful results. He said Mauritius had always been a favourite shooting site for Indian filmmakers.

Jury member and senior filmmaker Rahul Rawail called upon the film industry in India to support the Pravasi Film Festival initiative and referred to the affinity in themes. He added that women appeared to be doing very well as far as NRI filmmaker went, with Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Gurinder Chadha, and now Sangeeta Dutta.

Festival Director Anil Joshi said this first venture was only at a take-off stage and added that it could help create a market for films by NRI filmmakers. He recalled that the Mauritian President Sir Anerood Jugnauth accompanied by his wife Sarojini Jugnauth had unveiled the awards to be given away at the Festival in a ceremony on 1st December.

Pravasi Today group Chief Editor Padmesh Gupta and Festival Co-Director Pankaj Dubey were also present.

The competitive Festival had been organized by the Pravasi Today Group in association with the Mauritius government at India Habitat Center from 3rd to 6th January. Around 35 films from different countries were screened at the Festival and a large number of the filmmakers have come to India to attend the event.

The feature film jury was headed by veteran filmmaker Basu Chatterjee and the non-feature jury by renowned critic Latika Padgaonkar. Other members of the feature film jury were filmmakers Rahul Rawail and Sanjay Singh, Festival advisor and senior critic Aruna Vasudev and critic Namrata Joshi. The other short film jury members were film historian Lalit Mohan Joshi, and senior critic Utpal Borpujari.

The Festival was inaugurated on 3rd January by renowned filmmaker Deepa Mehta who expressed the views of the NRI filmmakers when she said "we are like children who have left their mother and gone away. And we keep coming back because the mother is so good and pulls us back."

Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahay, Central Board of Film Certification and veteran film actress Sharmila Tagore, actresses Soha Ali Khan, Pooja Kumar and Purva Bedi, Ashok Malhotra who is Secretary General of the Group of People of India Origin (GOPIO), American Yoga expert Dhananjay Kumar, Dr Nikhil Kaushik who is a doctor and also a filmmaker from the United Kingdom, British filmmaker Sangeeta Dutta, and Avantika Hari, filmmaker Patricia Mohammed from the Trinidad and Tobago were present on the occasion.

The festival also saw the presence of other film personalities from the Diaspora like Mira Nair and Manoj Bajpai, Nasreen Munni Kabir, Karan Razdan, Dr Nikhil Kaushik, and Dr Shiv Pande.

Apart from over 30 feature and non-features from the Diaspora and India, there were several panel discussions on subjects like ‘Mauritius – an attractive destination for filmmakers’, ‘India on my mind’; ‘Commerce of NRI Films’, ‘Filmmaking - a question of identity’, and ‘NRI films – the road ahead’.

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