IFFI 2017: During welcome speech, Smriti Irani says 'we are a tolerant government'
Panaji: Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani on 20 November said that a minister who can a take a joke on herself is an example that the current government is tolerant.
The minister, who was an actor before she started her political career, was referring to the joke that actor Rajkummar Rao — who hosted the opening ceremony of the 48th International Film Festival of India with a fractured leg — made on her surname by drawing a connection with Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's home country.
She said she was referring to the joke because she doesn't want people to point fingers at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and accuse its workers of breaking his (Rao's) leg.
"Rajkummar, I would like the whole country to know that you made fun of Irani — a minister — which shows what a tolerant government we are," Irani said in her speech at the event. "And I am also expressing this, because I don't want anyone to say that 'BJP walon ne actor ki taang todh di' (BJP workers broke the actor's leg)."
The minister was taking a jibe at the claims from many sections that the government is not tolerant and is stifling creative voice. The clamour is a reaction to the postponement of the Padmavati release, and the exclusion of S Durga and Nude from IFFI's Indian Panorama section.
Despite actors like Shabana Azmi and Hansal Mehta asking people to boycott the festival as a sign of protest, the film gala, which will go on till 28 November, was opened by superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Indian cinema icons like Sridevi, AR Rahman, Shahid Kapoor and Vishal Bhardwaj were also present.
Irani said, "On behalf of the Government of India, I would like to welcome you to the 48th IFFI.
"We speak almost 1,600 dialects to tell stories, and today's gathering is unique because it has a five-year-old Pihu, King Khan of romance, Nana Patekar and the ethereal Sridevi. I would like to thank each one of us. Like Shahid Kapoor said that this country is all about celebration, utsav and young energy... It is our endeavour on behalf of the Government of India and the Government of Goa, that we invite filmmakers from around the world."
She also praised hosts Rajkummar and actress Radhika Apte, saying they are a "pride of not only to the industry or the creative industry but also India per se".
Irani concluded the evening by inviting everyone to come and join the ride of knowing cinema better with the festival.