Mumbai's homegrown international film festival, pretty much coinciding with the festive season, made a comeback last night at Liberty Cinema in South Mumbai. As did filmmaker Anurag Kashyap -- if the initial response to his latest film, Mukkabaaz is anything to go by. Kashyap's film officially opened the festival, with a stellar line-up slated for the following week.
Sharmila Tagore, Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan
The audience, especially the junta that had booked tickets for the quasi-sports film's Asia premiere, and were waiting outside at the gates, had to remain patient throughout for the show though, given that the opening ceremony started very late, and carried on with the customarily official stuff for quite a while.
Which isn't quite the organisers' fault, since some of the seemingly mundane stuff -- jury introductions etc -- is essential for an opening ceremony. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's wife Amruta extolled virtues of cinema, and Marathi cinema in particular; and Nita Ambani rightly explained her personal involvement with the festival, and what movies mean to this metropolis. It was only three years ago that Mumbai's premier film festival was on the verge of a shutdown, but for the Ambanis' generous support.
India's top industrialists have since not just opened up the coffers for the fest, but even their vertical villa, Antilia, for guests of the opening ceremony. The family stuck around to mingle with delegates late into the night. Showbiz expectedly showed up in big numbers to the Ambanis' after-party, with Kangana Ranaut catching everyone's eye. She spent most of the while hanging out with Aamir Khan, whose wife Kiran Rao, as chairperson of MAMI, runs the show.
Sridevi was in the chandeliered hall as well, along with top Bollywood filmmakers -- Vidhu Vinod Chopra (whose wife, Anupama is the festival director), Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Vijay Krishna Acharya (director of Dhoom, and now Thugs Of Hindustan), among several others, mixing with their counterparts from across the globe. Generally, this might not seem like the atmosphere of an intimate festival that the 19-year-old MAMI has traditionally been. But 'resistance as art' remained still the subtly underlying thought as Sharmila Tagore picked up her 'lifetime achievement award' in the evening, asking for an "enabling environment for meaningful cinema to flourish."
If anything, the opening shot of Kashyap's Mukkabaaz is a bunch of gou-rakshaks beating the hell out of regular guys to speak in praise of Ram. Whether that scene makes it to the cinema eventually, the rest of the film won't irk the Censors one bit.
Either way, the city could do with a whole bunch of Indian and international theatrical screenings that have not been censored, to