Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor was on Friday felicitated at the opening ceremony of the 1st BRICS Film Festival here by Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathod and Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh for his and the Kapoor family’s contribution to the field of cinema.

The festival, which is part of the special events planned in the run-up to the 8th BRICS Summit to be held in India, kickstarted here at Siri Fort Auditorium Complex with the screening of National Award-winning filmmaker Jayaraj’s multilingual film “Veeram”.

“I may be politically little incorrect, but I am an actor not a politician. I want to thank BRICS for giving me this opportunity to be here. In all humility, I would like to introduce myself as a member of a film family,” Rishi, son of legendary actor-filmmaker Raj Kapoor and Krishna Kapoor, said on stage.

“The Indian film industry has been existing for over 100 years in which the Kapoors have contributed 88 years. This is the magic of cinema. Cinema is everything to me. It gives us opportunity to see another land, another people and their culture. Cinema is the ambassador which cuts across various barriers and builds bridges and most importantly, it entertains,” he added.

Also present on the opening ceremony were Directorate of Film Festivals Senthil Rajan and film delegates from other BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa.

The opening ceremony witnessed performances by Beleza Pura from Brazil, Theatre Leningrad Centre Dreams of Russia, MBZ Music Production from South Africa and a culture showcase on Indian behalf by renowned classical dancer Sonal Mansingh.

The festival — which is an initiative announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last BRICS summit that was held in Russia — has a competition section in which 20 films will be screened.

The jury of the festival will include one member from each country. These include journalist, producer and curator of film shows Francis Vogner do Reis from Brazil, Academic Secretary of the National Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences of Russia Kirill Razlogov, professor Hou Keming from Beijing Film Academy, China, member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Xoliswa Sithole from South Africa, and Indian writer, director and actor T.S. Nagabharana.

“Films know no boundaries. Tears know no language. Stories are always universal. The BRICS countaries in total cover 43 per cent of the world population, 37 percentage of the GDP of the entire world and 17 per cent of the world trade,” Rathod said at the event.

“Films are one of the best ways of taking our culture across the border,” he added.

The films that will be competing from India include magnum opus “Baahubali: The Beginning”, Bengali film “Cinemawala”, Kannada film “Thithi” and Bollywood film “Bajirao Mastani”.

“Films are a reflection of people of any country. Films tell a lot about the culture of the nation it belongs to. Bollywood films have had a wide reach across the world. Also, many have learnt Hindi by watching Indian films,” Singh said.

The closing ceremony of the festival will focus on the journey of Indian cinema and a cultural performance from China, the host for the next edition of the film festival.

The first edition of the BRICS film festival will end on September 6 with the screening of Jackie Chan’s “Skiptrace”.