Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur, Bollywood actors Suniel Shetty, Varun Dhawan, Sara Ali Khan with Writer and CBFC Chairperson Prasoon Joshi on the red carpet of the inaugural ceremony of 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), on Sunday Image Credit: ANI

Goa: Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan was bang on the buck at the star-studded opening ceremony of the 53rd International Film Festival Of India (IFFI) when he declared that cinema was all about “Entertainment, Entertainment, and Entertainment.” The ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ star may have borrowed an iconic line from Vidya Balan’s award-winning drama ‘The Dirty Picture’, but hundreds of movie-mad fans who descended upon Goa’s capital Panjim showed their approval in resounding roars. “Cinema is all about entertainment! I am so excited to perform at the opening ceremony of IFFI. It’s been a long time since I have performed to such a full house. It’s wonderful to see so many people who love cinema under one roof … I want to live every moment of my life celebrating cinema and am hungry for some good work,” said Aaryan in Hindi.

For the next seven days, 282 films from 79 countries will be screened at the IFFI and the glittering opening ceremony set the tone for the next few days. Gulf News got a ring-side view of all the action. And what's a film fest without a good dose of Bollywood star power and bravado?

IFFI Goa: 282 films from 79 countries will be screened at the IFFI over the next 7 days Manjusha Radhakrishnan/Gulf News

Bollywood A-listers including Sara Ali Khan, Varun Dhawan, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee, and Mrunal Thakur were a part of the ceremony that saw plenty of song-dance spectacle.

National Award-winning Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee, who was honoured on the opening night, spoke about how Indian cinema has become “democratised”

“Cinema has become so democratised now that anybody with talent can make it big here. We were just talking about how talent rules on our flight here to Goa with Paresh Rawal and Suniel Shetty,” said Bajpayee.

Actor, director, and producer Ajay Devgn, who is here to showcase his latest thriller ‘Drishyam 2’, also spoke about his love for cinema.

“I can’t choose between production, direction, and acting … For an art lover, it’s all about seeing films in totality and every department should ideally excel. I am here because of my love for films,” said Devgn. As always, he was pragmatic when asked about what advise he would give to the budding filmmakers around the globe who were attending this year’s IFFI, hosted by the Ministry Of Information & Broadcasting through the National Film Development Corporation (NDFC) and the Goa government.

“I am no one to really dispense advice to anybody … But just follow yourself and most importantly believe in yourself,” said Devgn.

But the true hero who brought the house down was actor Varun Dhawan who danced robustly on stage to his hit and popular songs and did an impromptu mimicry gig on stage around icons like Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, and Shah Rukh Khan. The actor even prodded the strait-laced politicians seated on the front row to replicate his hook step from the song ‘Naach Punjaban’ (‘Jugg Jugg Jeeyo’).

Dhawan is in IFFI Goa to promote his upcoming horror comedy ‘Bhediya’ along with a raft of other Indian talents including Yami Gautham, Pankaj Tripathi, and

“IFFI Goa is a wonderful celebration of world cinema and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” said Dhawan.

Over the next few days, cinephiles and filmmakers from across the globe will gather around Goa to do just that.

Kannada film 'Hadinelentu', directed by Prithi Kumar was the opening feature of IFFI Goa. Blockbusters including 'RRR' and 'The Kashmir Files' will also be showcased during this festival.

Watch this space for more.