ESG and the Elephant

By Laxmikant Shetgaonkar
11 September 2010 14:02 IST

There is a famous story about blind men, who were interpreting an elephant. All of them had never seen the whole giant elephant and thus had different versions of an elephant. The one who touched his legs said elephant is like a pole and the one who touched his tail said elephant is like a huge broom and so on...

Few years ago, similar thing happened in Goa. The only difference was that this elephant was called IFFI. The story of blind however was similar...

Goa government had no clue of what a film festival is. Hardly any film was made in Goa; forget about holding a smallest film festival.  The then chief minister Manohar Parrikar hurriedly decided to host 35th IFFI in Goa. He realized they need a separate government establishment to facilitate its activity and channelise the funds for such a mega event, if Goa has to be made a permanent centre for IFFI.

Thus was born the Entertainment Society of Goa in2004. It was born more out of compulsion. Since then, every year this organization is being heavily criticized for its sloppy management not only by the celebrities and national media but also by the local film fraternity. The juicy stories of ESG's shortcomings are constantly heard in the state capital and echoed frequently in the Goa Legislative Assembly.  

The ill reputation that ESG brings to the state of Goa is no lesser than an abuse on the coastal belt.  Any Goan who is proud of being a hospitable and lovable guest will feel let down by the bunch of bureaucrats managing IFFI. The most important thing is that IFFI has exposed poor management skills of the State Government agency - ESG. The tried and tested formula continues till today.

In the early years, the society was headed by the people who had no experience of managing such an event; even half the scale of IFFI. Every year a new bureaucrat sits on ESG chair. For the last couple of years, it's Manoj Srivastav, who was looking after Indian Panorama section of the Directorate of Film Festival when IFFI was first brought to Goa in 2004.  

In the past six years, the film sections as well as number of delegates are growing. But the people managing the Grand show still display an amateur attitude at this international event. Be it related to delegate cards, transportation, opening or closing ceremonies, announcements, media relations etc, the confusion mounts on. It is surprising that the state Government cannot find qualified managers for such an event even after six years.

The Directorate of Film Festivals is the organizer of IFFI. They collaborate with the state governments in holding this festival. Till 2003, the festival had been travelling all over the country. It settled down in Goa only since 2004. Thus ESG came into existence. ESG was initially an agency only to facilitate the management of IFFI in Goa. Over the years, ESG decided to have more powers as they believed that the state government is spending the money and thus they ought to seek more powers. However, ESG fails to recognize a fact that in the past, wherever IFFI was organized earlier, the respective state governments also spent similar amount of money.

In fact, ESG should have attempted to recover at least fifty percent of the cost spent by Goa government for IFFI.  Last year, ESG has spent Rs 6.5 crore, but could collect only Rs 70 lakh through sponsorships. This itself signifies failure of this agency to make such a mega event sustainable. Even local event managers bring larger sponsorships in Goa for local events.

Apart from hosting this festival, ESG has started another parallel film festival during IFFI, called Short Film Festival through its own Short Film Centre. The expenditure on travel, accommodation, prize money and publicity to this section adds to the total budget of IFFI.  All the events added by ESG during IFFI has increased financial burden on the state government. Thus ESG itself is to be blamed for excess spending on IFFI, rather than pointing fingers at officials of the DFF.

The accommodation and the transport cost is bound to increase over the years as IFFI expands. The prize money has been increased to almost a crore since this year. This has to be an eye opener, because if ESG fails to bring in adequate sponsors, IFFI 2010 will be yet another disaster year for the festival. Instead of looking for power position in the mega event, ESG needs to apply strategies to bring in the required buzz and buck through various programmes and activities outside the festival venue.

The popular story about the blind men and an elephant is timely and relevant to the relationship between ESG and the IFFI. Any international event of sports or culture, when huge in size, needs to be properly understood and exploited accordingly.

A mega event like IFFI can definitely be transformed into a major international event. But then the state government needs to appoint professionals, who have vision and experience, to bring in the glory and the bucks to Goa. Merely filling the body with politicians and businessmen in decision making positions will not only empty the government coffers but also damage the reputation of otherwise hospitable Goa and Goans.


Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Laxmikant Shetgaonkar

Laxmikant Shetgaonkar is a Goan filmmaker of international repute, presently shuttles between Goa and Mumbai. He has created history with his first Konkani film “Paltadacho Munis” (A Man Beyond the Bridge) winning the most prestigious FIPRESCI award, also known as Discovery Award of the Critics, at Toronto International film festival in 2009. His first short film “Eka Sagar Kinari” had also bagged a National Award, the first one for Goa once again, in 2005. Laxmikant graduated in Theatre Arts from Kala Academy, Goa. He was an Actor-Teacher at India’s prestigious theater training school, National School of Drama, New Delhi. Overwhelmed with the quality of world cinema, he decided to take up the medium of cinema to express his concerns. He has also started a cinema movement in Goa, by forming Entertainment Network of Goa. He has also directed many more films. He has figured in the Top Ten youngest achievers of India in Sun magazine in 1995. His profile and activities are available on his website .

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Previous Comments

good one... its time for you to speak up... cheers

- s.m.irfhan, margao | 10 th February 2012 16:10


..........and in the meantime.........the elephant has become larger than life!!!!!........story continued.......

- Anita Haladi, Caranzalem | 27 th September 2010 16:55


Dear Laxmikant,

Your blog is wonderful and very informative over the inefficiency of ESG. But things will change only with political will and if more people like u start making films and put their foot down. Our hon CM will keep making commmitteee and sub -comtt to find out what exactly is happening. Our whole of Goa is in a sorry state. Professional management has been a far cry since the time IFFI was brought to Goa. BJP or Congress, they are just two sides of the same coin.

- Dr babita angle, margao | 13 th September 2010 14:52


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