Thiruvananthapuram: The 20th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) - billed as an extravaganza of cinematic and artistic expression - began here in the Kerala capital on a grand note on Friday evening.
The chants of "Om" rent the air at the open-air converted Nishagandhi auditorium, where around 1,500 delegates had gathered for the opening ceremony.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who lit the ceremonial lamp to inaugurate the event, said it was "an honour to have so many distinguished guests" at a single place at the festival organised by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy (KSCA).
All dignitaries present gave short speeches to welcome the guests.
Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, in a mixed speech in Malayalam and English, said he was "proud to be among some of the most knowledgeable people" in the field.
Brazilian filmmaker and writer Julio Bressane, who is the chair of the IFFK jury, pointed towards the audience as he said: "Thank you to each one of you". Stating that his English was "a little rusty", he said he hoped to judge the films correctly.
The star of the show, however, was tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, who set the stage on fire with a mesmerising performance.
Accompanied by sarangi player Sabir Khan, son of vocalist late Ustad Sultan Khan, Zakir Hussain enthralled the packed auditorium with his percussion.
In his key-note address, Zakir Hussain said Kerala's richness in culture and heritage has always enticed him. "Moreover, I had unique opportunity to perform along with few of the legendary musical maestros from the state," he said.
The table great explained his some of his moves on the instrument, with reference to gods Shiva and Ganesh, which left the audience in awe. Both the musicians were given a standing ovation at the end of their performance.
However, Iranian filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui, one of the icons of the New Wave movement of the 1970s in his country and who would be awarded the prestigious lifetime achievement award this year, was absent as he was ill while en route from Dubai, Chief Minister Chandy told the
Kerala ministers Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, A.P Anil Kumar and K.C. Joseph were also present at the event. A festival book was released during the inaugural ceremony.
French director Jean-Jacques Annaud's French-Chinese 3D movie "Wolf Totem" (2015) was screened as the IFFK's opening film.
About 180 Indian and international films, including several award-winners and Oscar nominees, will be screened at 13 venues in the capital from December 5 to 11.