Lamp lighting ceremony

Lamp lighting ceremony

The Siri fort auditorium in New Delhi is decorated no less than a memory lane that takes you back to 1912, when the first Indian film ‘Shree Pundalik’ in Marathi was released at ‘Coronation Cinematograph’. With the first movie camera on display along with other equipment that were used then, including the old cameras, 800 mm telephoto lens, editing machine and projector etc., the organisers exhibited the knowledge that went on to creating a history of Indian cinema.

The occasion was the inaugural ceremony of Centenary Film Festival on Thursday, a week long cinematic extravaganza that aims to drive you back to the 100 years of Indian cinema’s history. Lighting the lamp were the Information and Broadcast Minister Mr. Manish Tewari along with secretary Information & Broadcast Mr. Uday Kumar Verma, veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, music composer and director Vishal Bhardwaj, southern actor Nagarjuna, the founder of LV Prasad Film and TV Academy Mr. K. Hariharan, and veteran cinematographer Mr. Apurba Kishore Bir.

In the inaugural speech Uday Kumar Verma, who is one of the key persons responsible for broadcast related legislations, shed some light on the number of films produced each year. “Around 800 to 1000 films a year are made, out of which more than 200 films are produced by Bollywood or film industry based in Mumbai and rest all are in 25 different languages of India,” he said.

He also emphasized on the setting up of a single window mechanism of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Promotion and Facilitation of Film Production in India that would ensure the removal of all possible hurdles and lay down a timeline for different agencies involved for granting clearances for film shooting in India. Information and broadcast minister Manish Tewari further shared, “As we look towards the next 100 years, we thought of facilitating the system to ensure that creative energy and the potential of our filmmakers is not wasted in running around bureaucratic hurdles. That’s why we have set up a single window clearance system, which of course is looking outwards to see if we can get foreign filmmakers to come to India. I also do recognise that there has been a certain level of criticisms too that domestic filmmakers need to be given the same field to play on. I ensure that would be our endeavour too.”

Presence of director Ramesh Sippy, who gave the Indian film industry a classic blockbuster hit in 1975 ‘Sholay’, added to the charm of yesteryear cinema.

“It is my privilege to be here at the celebration of the 100 years of cinema. There have been some great moments on screens by the greatest talents whether it is by performing, creating, writing, directing, cinematography or camera work and each and every department without which Indian cinema cannot work. I feel very proud and happy to be a part of it.”

Ramesh Sippy also believes that regional cinemas too have done fabulous work over all these years and also hold major contribution towards the growth of films in India.

Representing the south, superstar actor Nagarjuna also completed 25 years in Indian cinema. Hailing from a family of actors, start from his father Nageswara Rao Akkineni, who was also awarded Padma Vibhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke award for his contribution to Indian cinema, to an actress wife Amala Akkineni, Nagarjuna felt honoured to be a part of 100th milestone of Indian cinema. “The journey has been so incredible like a roller coaster ride with so many technological advancements. I am actually representing my father here.  Since the time I have got into the films, the line between south and north would have vanished. I always believe that films are the only means that can erase the border line,” said the actor.

Vishal Bhardwaj tagged himself as a fellow sufferer of a 100 years old disease called cinema. “We entertain but we always remain in pain. I am so happy to be a part of this incurable 100 years old disease called cinema. At times I wonder, had I not been in cinema, what would I have been doing in life?” Bhardwaj ended the line on a humorous note.

Followed the inauguration ceremony was the screening of a silent film ‘Throw of the Dice’ made by the German born director Osten in 1929.

The festival will go on until 30th April in New Delhi, showcasing yesteryears films as well as panel discussions by eminent filmmakers.