The week-long 19th edition of the International Children’s Film Festival of India, which commenced on Saturday, suffered a setback as Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao stayed away from it.
KCR abstained from attending the meeting after learning that it was Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and not anyone more senior, who would attend the function. KCR viewed this as “breach of protocol” and deputed his state minister for cinematography T. Srinivas Yadav to represent the Telangana government at the function.
This change severely affected the arrangements for the inaugural session in the city. Normally, the ICFFI, popularly known as Golden Elephant, is a pompous event organised in Hyderabad, which is the permanent venue of the festival since 1999. Thousands of hoardings are set up all over the city.
The biennial festival, organised by the Children’s Film Society of India (CSFI), an autonomous body under the I&B ministry, has been a collaborative event between the Centre and the state since its inception in 1956. The I&B ministry had sanctioned Rs 6 crore to the state to take care of the promotional activity and draw children to around a dozen theatres where the films are being screened. However, sensing the mood of the CM, the Telangana government officials had scaled down the promotional activity for the last one week. This resulted in less than regular turn up of audience at the main venues of the festival — Prasad Inmax and 11 other cinema complexes.
Telangana government’s special officer G. Kishan Rao told The Sunday Guardian that the CM was busy taking care of the Warangal Lok Sabha byelection to be held on 21 November.
CFSI chairperson Mukhesh Khanna and CEO Shravan Kumar refused to comment on the development, but the officials in the local I&B ministry said they were shocked by KCR’s decision.
“If the CM doesn’t make it to a function, it will definitely look dull,” said an I&B official. The officials of the Telangana government were unable to explain the absence of KCR at the 19th edition of ICFFI, which was held for the first time after the formation of Telangana. The Telangana government had in fact claimed the festival to be an asset to Brand Hyderabad. Bollywood stars Kareena Kapoor and Tabu added glamour to the opening ceremony. CFSI’s production, Happy Mother’s Day,directed by Anjuli Shukla was the opening film. Around 300 films from different countries are being screened in both competition and non-competition sections.