After Removing Naidu's Nominees, Irani Appoints New Members to IFFI Committees

There is no official response yet on the revamping of the crucial film preview committee.

New Delhi: A day after the The Wire reported that the newly appointed information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani had sought changes in various committees established by her predecessor, Venkaiah Naidu, for this year’s International Film Festival of India in Goa, the ministry has announced new names for two such committees.

A lengthy meeting held by Irani with senior ministry officials on August 18 resulted in a list of names to fill the new steering committee and the steering committee (technical). While the steering committee will now be headed by noted filmmaker Jahnu Barua (as convener), Nagesh Kukunoor will lead the steering committee (technical). The ones set up by Naidu were led by well-known cinematographer-filmmaker A. K. Bir, who held the positions for two consecutive years.

While the earlier steering and technical committees comprised 17 and 18 members respectively, the ones formed by Irani on August 18 have 13 and 12 members respectively.

According to a release by the press information bureau on the evening of August 18, besides Barua, the new steering committee will include Siddhartha Roy Kapur, Shoojit Sircar, Bharat Bala, Anand Gandhi, Prasoon Joshi, Vani Ganapathi, Piyush Pandey, Shaji N. Karun, Meren Imchen, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, Nagesh Kukunoor and the chairman of the National Film Development Corporation. Recently, Joshi also replaced controversial chief of the Central Board of Film Certification Pahlaj Nihalani, as per Irani’s decision.

The technical committee set up by Naidu included, besides Bir, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, director-screenwriter-choreographer Raghavendra Rao, director Shyamaprasad and film critic Aruna Vasudev apart from government officials.

While Kukunoor will chair the new steering committee (technical), the only new member outside of government of Goa and ministry officials is cinematographer Sameer Arya, unlike before. The earlier technical committee headed by Bir also included the in-charge of Inox Theatre, Goa, representatives of the firms like M/S Pulz Electronics, M/S Real Image/ Qube, M/S BARCO and M/S SMPTE besides senior ministry and Goa government officials.

However, there is no official response yet on the revamping of the crucial film preview committee. The Wire report had quoted reliable sources in the ministry that the 21-member preview committee too would be shrunk. Ministry sources said on August 18 that new names would be announced “soon” as per Irani’s decision.

Though the preview committee set up by Naidu was cleared for three years “to maintain continuity”, Irani has decided to go back to the drawing board. The present preview committee, divided into three panels, has already graded about 150 entries sent from across the world for the gala festival to be held in Goa from November 20-28.

The members were to regroup on August 17 to watch more films. However, following Irani’s objection to the composition of the members of the preview committee, an email was sent to all the members postponing the scheduled meeting. Among others, the present preview committee which is now set to be dismantled includes BJP member Rekha Gupta, also associated with RSS’s cultural wing Sanskar Bharti . It also features two other members of Sanskar Bharti – Praveen Arya and Kiran Jha.