9th edition of DIFF begins with gala screening of ‘Life of Pi’

Dubai: Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee's 'Life Of Pi', an adventure fantasy about an Indian boy adrift in the ocean with a Bengal tiger, opened the 9th edition of Dubai International Film Festival tonight with its lead cast –Suraj Sharma, Adil Hussain and Shravanthi Sainath– walking the red carpet.

Australian actress Kate Blanchett and India-born star Freida Pinto added Hollywood glamour to the opening gala, which was attended by some leading names from Arab cinema.

Pinto glittered in a golden gown by Ralph Lauren while Blanchett was dressed in light blue gown.

Pinto is part of the international judging panel at DIFF for the short film competitions in the Muhr Arab, Muhr AsiaAfrica and Muhr Emirati categories while Blanchett is heading the jury for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award.

Shot in 3D, 'Life of Pi' is based on Yann Martel's Booker-prize winning novel of the same name. It has already released in India to good reviews and box office collection.

The opening scenes of the film were shot in India while a large section, dealing with ocean scenes, was shot in a giant water tank in Lee's birth country Taiwan.

Director Ang Lee, Irrfan Khan and Tabu did not attend DIFF.

Suraj, who has been appreciated globally for his debut performance as Pi, had some trouble during his semester exams due to short attendance at St Stephen college in Delhi but it has been sorted now.

The actor seemed to be in good spirits as he attended the premiere here. When asked about the controversy, he said, "Everything is good now. I gave my exams." It was the first red carpet appearance for 17-year Sainath, who plays Pi's love interest in the movie.

A trained Bharatnatyam dancer, the young girl is looking forward to make a career in cinema post her studies.

"It is my first red carpet and it is very very memorable… Something that I will remember and cherish forever. I feel very blessed to have done my first movie with Ang Lee," Sainath told PTI.

A total of 158 films in 43 languages from 61 countries have been lined up for the festival, which runs till December 16. Egyptian actor Mahmoud Abdul Aziz and British filmmaker Michael Apted were honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.