Hyderabad, Nov 20 In the commotion of hundreds of delegates and over 150,000 children at The Golden Elephant 17th International Children’s Film Festival here, there was one man who wasn’t invited but managed to sneak in unnoticed, stay at the five-star hotel reserved for the jury and delegates and attended almost every event of the festival.
His luck finally ran out when he demanded reimbursement for a flight he had not taken. He was arrested late Friday and is now languishing in Madhapur police station.
Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) chairperson Nandita Das told IANS: “It’s a big festival with thousands of people all over and we had many important things to take care of. He took advantage of this and sneaked it. It is unfortunate but the law did take its own course.”
Ideally his name – Dr. Ruccess – should have given him away. But in the midst of the rush of festival, no one noticed a man dressed in white, with dark black hair, talking expertly about cinema to the delegates.
“He knew about cinema and said he wanted to find hidden meaning in every film. Now when I look back, I realise he was delusional,” said a delegate from England who interacted with him. Though he often crossed the line with them by being overbearing and trying to control every conversation, they tried their best to politely avoid him fearing he might be some high government official.
His intentions, except in the end where he demanded money and was caught, didn’t seem harmful. “He just decided that he would become our friend and would just take over. At the venue he’d call journalists and introduce us to them and tell them to take our interview. He seemed harmless, but who knows,” says a delegate from Iceland.
Every delegate this reporter talked to, refused have their names printed for fear that he might not be so harmless after all.
Another European delegate said: “We knew he was a lunatic from day one. But we thought it would be rude to ask. What if he turned out to be some big government official? He told one of us he was from the government so all of us bore with him politely.”
Every delegate who’s staying at the five-star hotel, Aditya Sarovar Premiere, was asked for their identity which was checked with the database they had received from the festival. Yet, he managed to stay at the hotel for five days.
Chaitanya, a local intern working for the festival, says: “He somehow got a badge made. Late on the first night, where there were a lot of people coming in, he came in with his bag and told the person at the counter that he is a jury member and has just landed from England and so would like to retire quickly and complete the formalities later.” The festival was free for all and did not charge any money from those who wanted to see films.