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IFFI 54: Hollywood-Bollywood Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vidya Balan, Shekhar Kapur all take spotlight…

IFFI 54: Hollywood-Bollywood Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vidya Balan, Shekhar Kapur all take spotlight…

🎥 Much excitement over Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and son Dylan arrival at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) on penultimate day – see video and pictures (to be updated)

🎥 Bollywood icon and female star Vidya Balan says women should only consider their own self worth – others should not judge them…

🎥 Director Shekhar Kapur says artists and philosophers best placed to cope with the challenges of Artificial Intelligence and says they should lead…

🎥 Golden Peacock award will be presented at Closing Ceremony here tomorrow (UK time around 3pm GMT)

Goa 8.20pm GMT (1.50am IST)

FESTIVALS can be strange beasts and perhaps none more so than when weird juxtapositions seem to occur.

Catherine Zeta-Jone and Michael Douglas arrive at IFFI54

In the afternoon, two maverick directors who started loosely in Bollywood – Shekhar Kapur and Sudhir Mishra swapped intellectual notes on how AI might affect their work.

Just on from attending that talk, there was a more than a dash of Hollywood glamour as Michael Douglas, wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and their son Dylan arrived to walk the IFFI red carpet, and participate in just over 30-minute press conference that was lively and informative thanks to the pair being clearly delighted to be in India.

Douglas is proud to be accepting the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award conferred upon him by IFFI. Zeta-Jones had a revelation about India that to date she had not disclosed to anyone until earlier today…(GMT) .

At the end of the day and just some hours ago one of Bollywood’s leading ladies – Vidya Balan talked to Film Bazaar convenor and IFFI steering committee member and actor and producer herself, Vani Tripathi Tikoo, about how she became an Indian cinema icon. It was empowering itself to see two women of cinema slay some of the demons that continue to bedevil the popular film industry that is Bollywood.

Let us start there – billed as Women and the Glass ceiling – Balan put her philosophy very simply: she loved the camera and went into acting to portray different roles and never wanted to be typecast.

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Vanit Tripathi Tikoo and Vidya Balan

IT IS TRUE that possibly out of a generation of leading women in their middle years in the Hindi film industry – she has played the widest range of roles from her seminal turn in playing Silk in ‘The Dirty Picture’ (2011) – in a film based loosely upon a real life character who went from obscurity to fame as an actor and traded on her sexuality to accrue fans and wealth to the glamour and sophistication of ‘Parineeta’ (2005) set in 1960s Kolkata. Few, if any, Bollywood leading women would touch the role Balan portrayed in ‘The Dirty Picture’ – and she reiterated her belief that women shouldn’t be judged – they just needed to look in the mirror and feel happy about who they were looking at and – just “celebrate themselves”.

Vidya Balan

She added: “I wasn’t conscious of breaking any glass ceiling I was just looking at the sky.”

She also said she wasn’t afraid of using sex to sell a film – the purpose being to get people into theatres to see the film and then see that in the context of the whole movie.

She told Tripathi she has nothing concrete at the present time in the way of roles, but did stake a preference.

“I am reading material and listening to narratives…sometimes you need that distance…I am dying to do a comedy.”

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Shailendra Singh, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones

DOUGLAS and wife were clearly thrilled to be in Goa and the Hollywood leading man said that as a film student he had admired Ray’s work especially ‘Pather Panchali’ and ‘Charulata’; he praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anurag Singh Thakur, the country’s Information and Broadcasting minister for promoting films and encouraging film production in India – for the first time through a number of co-production treaties India can offer filmmakers from other countries incentives to make films here.

The couple had come with son Dylan and were accompanied by Shailendra Singh, a filmmaker whose experience in India extends to 25 years in the business.

Douglas said he had almost made ‘Romancing the Monsoon’ in India but the script and the need for train sets during the monsoon presented difficulties and the idea never got off the ground substantially.

Zeta Jones said one of her favourite Bollywood films is ‘Om Shanti Om’ and disclosed that she loved Ritesh Batra’s ‘The Lunchbox’, so much so that she even got her agent to arrange a meeting with the director and is still waiting…

Perhaps the most startling thing of all was said by Zeta-Jones

“I haven’t disclosed this before but I had a Tracheotomy when I was eighteen months and it was an Indian doctor who saved me. Whenever I come here I get a tingle…”

This is the couple’s fourth visit to India – and their first to the South – they both said they are looking forward to the closing ceremony tomorrow (November 28) when Douglas will be presented with his award.

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Shekhar Kapur and Sudhir Mishra

IN THE KAPUR-MISHRA talk, Kapur said he had asked AI net tool chatgpt to write him ‘Masoom2’ for this generation.

“It wasn’t bad but Masoom was still five times better,” he reflected.

For Kapur, AI was simply a machine that spluttered and spilled stuff that was already out there – that’s all it could (ever) do.

“It isn’t going to fall in love, it isn’t going to feel pain,” he stressed.

Mishra agreed but felt there needed to be some regulation – so that people could tell what was genuine and what was not.

“We have to agree about somethings – murder is wrong, rape is wrong,” he said appealing to the audience’s conscience.

But Kapur pointed out AI didn’t have a conscience – it couldn’t reason or tell the difference between right and wrong – it just goes on what is out there and discovers or replays a majoritarian opinion.

He said with the world under constant change there was one group of people already well suited to the times we live in – artists and philosophers.

“They are used to working with chaos.”

Both agreed that directors often came onto sets without knowing exactly what they wanted to do but would up being productive by managing everything around them and getting what they wanted.

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Helean Leake, Catherine Dussart, Shekhar Kapur, Jose Luis Alcaine,
Jerome Paillard, IFFI Monideepa Mukherjee

EARLIER Kapur also headed up the press conference by the competition jury – of which he is the chair and collectively they will present the Golden Peacock to the Best Film in competition. Producers Australian Helen Leake and French Catherine Dussart and fellow countryman Jerome Paillard, formerly head of March Du Film at the Cannes Film Festival for many years, also spoke briefly to the press. All were encouraged by the growth of Film Bazaar and the need for filmmakers to work together internationally to get films made. Jose Luis Alcaine, a cinematographer who has worked with several times with Pedro Almodovar is also on the jury.


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture