Kamal Haasan, Rekha and Asha Bhosle to open IFFI

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Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan, Hindi cinema’s yesteryear heartthrob Rekha, legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle among others will open the 44th edition of the International Film Festival of India at Goa’s capital city of Panaji. Mr “Bharat” Manoj Kumar – whose movies were once celebrated for their patriotic zing – renowned Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon – noted for her Best Actress Oscar in the 1995 Dead Man Walking – and Iranian director Majid Majidi – whose Children of Heaven was nominated for the Foreign Language Academy Award in 1998 -- will also be present when the inaugural lamp will be lit on November 20.

Haasan has been in the news lately for the right and wrongs reasons. Last month, the 15th Mumbai Film Festival honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a few months before that, his latest movie, Viswaroopam, faced the ire of a hitherto unknown Islamic group. It wanted the film to be banned. After weeks of delay, Haasan reached a compromise with the group.

However, the real reason for Haasan’s trouble was reportedly something else. He had, as the story goes, refused to sell the television rights of his movie to a channel which was close to the ruling party in Tamil Nadu.

Returning to IFFI, it will for the first time in a decade screen an Afghan film, A Man’s Desire for a Fifth Wife. A satirical look at violence against women and archaic social customs, the movie will be part of the Cinema of the World section.

The 11-day festival will showcase 160 foreign films and many Indian works, including 21 movies in the Panorama, which is meant to present the cream of the country’s cinema in all its wondrous diversity.