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4th Jagran Film Festival: Movies and queues

Too many films to watch. Too many people outside the hall. Too few seats available. Such was the scenario on the second last day of the most widespread film festival in the country. Needless to add, organisers did face management issues when the crowd started swelling. But then, the number of seats doesn’t increase accordingly and the screenings have to take place on time.

Director Aanand Rai
Director Aanand Rai

The cinematic shower began with the screening of the classic Mother India by Mehboob Khan. Though it was an early morning show, the auditorium was packed. Perhaps watching a black and white film on the big screen still holds a special place in moviegoers’ hearts. Other classics showcased on the day were Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali and Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen. Both registered a housefull. And some discontented connoisseurs who couldn’t get in! Goutam Ghose’s Shunyo Awnko the last show of the day saw steady footfall as well.

Max Lefranq Lumiere with his wife
Max Lefranq Lumiere with his wife

Evdeki Yabancilar aka Strangers in the House created a considerable amount of buzz. Directed by Ulas Gunes Kacargil and Dilek Keser, this Greek-Turkish film revolves around a house that can not be shared and became a silent witness of the intersecting lives of an old Greek woman and a young Turkish man.

This 90-minute film dealt with the stubbornness of Agapi, the woman in her 80s accompanied by her granddaughter and a young man. Fighting over the ownership of the house, they were forced to share it together which gave rise to a series of changes in their lives. Verdict: One of the finest films to come out of JFF. Under the World Panorama section, the first film to be screened was the Turkish docu-drama The Cycle Devir by Dervis Zaim. Films that followed were Salim Khassa’s English film Desperate Endeavors, which starred Gulshan Grover in a significant role.

Esteban Larrain’s Spanish film The Passion of Michelangelo couldn’t be shown due to some technical issues. In the midst of this streamline of movies, Dr Biju Kumar Damodaran’s Color of Sky was a stunner. Shown to an audience which was relying heavily on subtitles, this Malayalam film touched an emotional chord. Interestingly enough, Amala Paul, who plays the female lead, worked pro bono for the film and Prithviraj (of Aiyya fame) has a minor role.

A Night Too Young by Olmo Omerzu happened to be a surprise hit with the public, mainly because the Czech film attracted most of the crowd who couldn’t get an entry for Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus. The much-acclaimed indie film pulled a riotous crowd outside the cinema hall. Under the Indian Showcase segment, Manju Borah’s Ko:Yad was screened right before Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor.

Going back to the shorties, yesterday was the last day of the screening in this genre. Jagran Shots segment had the most entries and all the screenings took place without any cancellations. The first film screened under this category was a silent animated film called Little Ryan from Belgium. Nishant Bahl’s The Pink Umbrella was next, followed by Christoph Drobig’s 12-minute German film 3 Rules. Other shorts showcased under the category were Takahisa Shiraishi directed Judith and Cristian Pascariu’s 11-minute Romanian short film Dupa Un An.

After Glow, an English-Gujarati film of 20 minutes directed by Kaushal Oza; Tabato, a Mandingo film from Portugal directed by Joao Vianna; Masahiro Tsutani directed Between Regularity and Irregularity, an eight-minute Japanese film and Adoor Gopalakrishnan directed Malayalam short film Elippathayam. Some fans expressed disappointment at the no-show tag put on Satyajit Ray’s Charulata.┬áToday is the final day. Less than 10 screenings are scheduled but the big night is attributed to the awards ceremony. Worth a wait!

Blast from the past
The birth of cinema in India can be attributed to the Lumiere brothers. Only a few months after they introduced the art of cinematography in Paris in 1895, cinema made its presence felt in India. Interestingly, the Lumiere brothers held their first public show at Mumbai’s Watson’s Hotel on July 7, 1896 and the national paper glowingly referred to it as the ‘miracle of the century’.

The Lumiere brothers
The Lumiere brothers

The first show was a silent movie for 10 minutes and there were six items in all. They were titled Entry of Cinematographe, The Sea Bath, Arrival of a Train, A Demolition, Ladies & Soldiers on Wheels, and Leaving the Factory. On July 14, the shows shifted venue to the Novelty Theatre, Bombay. The shows concluded on August 15, 1896.

Cinematographe of Lumiere
Cinematographe of Lumiere

The first six films ever shot in India were screened last night at JW Marriott, Juhu. An invite-only event saw the showcasing of the 117-year-old films. The showcasing has a resonance not only with cinema, but also the city as it captures a forgotten era. To add to the nostalgic value, Max Lefranq Lumiere, the grandson of Lumiere brothers, was present at the event.

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