'Cinema is India's soft power, must be strengthened'

Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar. (PTI file photo)

Cinema is India's soft power and our films have transcended the language barrier in many countries like China, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday.

Addressing the gathering at the opening of the 50th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here, the Information and Broadcasting minister said the single window clearance for shooting that is being introduced by the government will encourage filmmakers from across the globe to shoot films in India.

As soon as Javadekar came to the stage and began his address, some people sitting in the balcony of the Shyama Prasad Mookherjee stadium started shouting slogans against the minister.

The protesters were opposing the Centre's move to 'exempt' the Karnataka government from obtaining environment clearance (EC) for a project on Mahadayi river.

Goa and neighbouring Karnataka have been at loggerheads over sharing of the Mahadayi river water. Both the states have filed Special Leave Petitions before the Supreme Court on the issue.

The protesters claimed that Javadekar, who also holds the Environment portfolio, was non-committal on giving any assurance on withdrawal of the EC exemption to Karnataka.

They were soon removed from the stadium by officials.

The minister continued to speak and welcomed cinema legends Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth along with other movie personalities and dignitaries at the IFFI opening.

"India's soft power is films, IT, music, among others. Cinema has an important imprint on the minds of the people. It can change the views of the people," he said.

"Wherever I go, people are fans of Indian films and if you go to countries like China, the limitations of language have been transcended by movies. This is an art and touches the hearts of the people and that is why this is India's soft power and we have to strengthen it," the minister said.

An event like IFFI helps enhance India's soft power footprint, he said. 

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