The 5th edition of the Khajuraho International Film Festival (KIFF) was recently held in Khajuraho. The festival’s theme this year was comedy. Some of the leading names from film and television that attended the 2019 KIFF included Rajpal Yadav, Sanjay Mishra, Rajendra Gupta, Hemant Pandey, Bhagwan Tiwari, Krishna Bhatt, Kanika Maheshwari, and Mahima Chaudhary, among others. The 2019 KIFF was inaugurated by the Honorable Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Kamal Nath. “Today is the first day of the Assembly as we complete one year of the new government and yet I am here in Khajuraho and not in Bhopal. I feel it is important to support an initiative like Khajuraho International Film Festival as we have to rewrite the history of Bundelkhand which has remained neglected for a very long time. While a film festival cannot achieve that alone, it certainly has a role to play in it. But it’s really important that the festival grows and that’s why I am here. Now, film festivals can play an important role in creating new opportunities for the people of the region. It’s very important to boost the economic activities in the state,” asserted Mr. Kamal Nath.
“The youth are the future and we must work towards securing their future. Today the world is very different from what it was when we were growing up and it has a whole new set of challenges that need to be addressed. They have their dreams and aspirations that need to be taken into consideration. The youth is our priority and I see Khajuraho International Film Festival as a good beginning in this direction and we need to take it to the next level. We are working on bringing a new film policy for the state. We are working towards setting up new cinema halls all across the state. We also have plans of setting up a film city. In this regard, I have already been in touch with people in the Mumbai industry. Recently for the first time, we have Indian Television Academy Awards in Indore. This is the first step to a new beginning. People still see Madhya Pradesh as a backward state and we need to change that perception. We are determined to make Madhya Pradesh the most film-friendly state in the country. That’s a major goal and we are committed to it,” added Mr. Kamal Nath while acknowledging the need to set up training centers across the state in order to meet the technological advancements in the field of filmmaking.
As many as 4 tapra talkies (tent theatres) were set up in and around Khajuraho to screen films for the local audiences. The films included an interesting mix of old and new, local and international. “Initially there were some apprehensions that associating Khajuraho with a film festival may not work out but we were determined to make it successful. The festival started in 2015. In 2016, we introduced the tapra talkies. The very next year we increased the number of tapra talkies to 4. In 2018, we had as many as 8 tapra talkies. Along with exhibiting films from all across the globe, we are committed to promoting the local Bundelkhandi films. The idea is to bring cinema to small towns and villages. But the overall vision is not just to promote cinema and entertain people. We want to create an ecosystem that benefits one and all,” explained Raja Bundela, Founder and Chairperson, KIFF.
In keeping up with the theme of comedy this year a panel discussion on the changing trends of comedy in cinema was organized. Speaking as part of the panel, actor Kanika Maheshwari condemned those who resort to body shaming in the name of comedy. “Today people make fun of obesity, dark complexion, short height and they think it is comedy. On a personal level, I don’t really appreciate such kind of body shaming. It is absolutely unacceptable. I think the onus is upon us all to take a stand against such desperate attempts at comedy, asserted Maheshwari. The other panelists which included stalwarts like Sushmita Mukherjee, Rajendra Gupta, Hemant Pandey, Krishna Bhatt, and Anil Dubey too touched upon the need to keep comedy healthy and free from any forms of vulgarity and body shaming.
The week-long festival was attended by over 10,000 people that included local artists, filmmakers, students, poets, writers, activists, teachers, bureaucrats, lawyers, and politicians, among others. “I first visited Khajuraho 10 years ago to attend a friend’s wedding. At the time I used to think that the place is home to erotic temples. But the reality is much different. The temples here are depicting the entire human life cycle and eroticism is just a small part of it. It’s really heartening to see an international film festival in a place like Khajuraho. Now, the place hardly has any good cinema hall. But the people here can watch their favorite films at the tapra talkies. So that’s really good to see. I strongly believe that tourism and cinema is a winning combination,” said Nitin Nanda, an international lawyer currently based out of Estonia, attending the 2019 KIFF.
Actor Mahima Chaudhary was one of the main guests at the festival’s closing ceremony. She was accompanied by her 13-year-old daughter Aryana. “Other than attending the festival she also visited the famed temples of Khajuraho. “Khajuraho is a treasure not just for the people of India but for the whole world. It’s such a beautiful place. I love the people here. Their warmth and affection is infectious. I hope more and more actors, directors, and producers from the film industry will actively get associated with the Khajuraho International Film Festival in the near future,” summed up Chaudhary.