This was my 3rd year attending the Mumbai Film Festival aka MAMI. Now if you know me well enough, you’d know that I am an absolute movie junkie & especially when it comes to Bollywood, I go crazy watching films back to back, sometimes first day, first show. MAMI is touted to be one of India’s biggest Film Festival where films from all over the world are showcased along with several workshops and interactive sessions for film buffs & industry personals. This year MAMI 2016 was held from 21st October to 27th October 2016. The line-up was rather interesting as well.
Day 1 – I watched You are My Sunday which stars popular TV actor Barun Sobti directed by Milind Dhaimade. Quite lengthy in my opinion but it was alright. The movie also stars the lovely Shahana Goswami and the effervescent Vishal Malhotra. Next, I caught a documentary by Deepa Mehta – Anatomy of Violence, a little hard-hitting if you’d ask me but definitely a well-made film out of a series of workshops. Day 1 also screened A Death in the Gunj which happened to be the opening film and the directorial debut of one of the super talented Konkona Sen Sharma. I really wanted to catch this but it was houseful during the time of booking. The trailer is lovely and the film has gotten rave reviews. I’ll definitely catch this when it releases next year! Konkona even won the best director award for this film.
Day 2 – I attended the Movie Mela. There was a session with Aishwarya Rai, Karan Johar and Anushka Sharma discussing films & promoting Ae Dil Hain Mushkil. KJo went on & on about how one-sided love is his biggest ache that he’s carried throughout his life. Clearly, he made a point that the movie is all about relentless unrequited love. He was funny in places but I wished Ash & Anushka spoke more. What stole the show for me on Day 2 was the reunion of the cast & crew of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. The entire team that comprised director Mansoor Khan, Aamir Khan, Farah Khan (who choreographed Pehla Nasha, her first big break), Lalit (from Jatin-Lalit), Deepak Tijori, Deven Bhojani, Ayesha Jhulka & Pooja Bedi. From Aamir’s spitting on palm pranks, Pooja’s flying red dress to Ayesha’s unavoidable accident, all of them had many interesting stories to tell.
Day 3 – I was again at the Movie Mela. This time round I actually explored the Mela, participating in VR, watching cinema with a new pair of glasses when the discussion was about virtual reality & how that might be the future of cinema. I got a chance to meet Shakun Batra who was leading the panel at that time. Unfortunately I missed out on most of it as I had turned up late.
But not too late to miss the director’s panel – an open discussion about film making which comprised leading Bollywood filmmakers like Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bharadwaj, Gauri Shinde, Shoojit Sircar & Rohit Shetty. This was the best part of the Movie Mela, for me, I absolutely loved this session! The directors opened up their experiences and learnings with the audiences. It was quite enlightening to watch 5 different completely different filmakers talking about their styles, habits and how they deal with ‘stars’.
So, the sessions at MAMI are all very back to back. You’ve to always and completely be on your toes. I somehow later managed to make it just in time to attend a session that was moderated by Nikhil Taneja and other big names in the web series world – TVF, YFilms etc – this one was quite interesting as well as we got an insight into the realm of internet, something that’s been taking the industry by storm, lately. Content is king!
Day 4 – Marathi films are killing it this season. When I saw the trailer of Ventilator, I loved it. Produced by Priyanka Chopra, the film has been directed by Rajesh Mapuskar who had earlier made Ferrari ki Sawari. Venitlator received amazing reviews from the audience. There was also The Red Turtle– an animated survivor film that won big time in Cannes. The highlights of the day were Barakah meets Barakah– a Saudi Arabian romantic comedy about a civil servant and an outspoken modern girl and Elle, a French-German-Belgian psychological thriller,which tells the story of a businesswoman who is raped in her home by an unknown assailant and stalks him back. This one has a 5 out 5 from The Guardian.
Day 5 – There was Pinky Beauty Parlour which looked like a nice off beat film and the Bengali movie Tope – The Bait, directed by Buddhadeb Dasgupta. I preferred the latter.
Day 6 – The ones that are worth raving about would be Lipstick under my Burkha which stars Konkona Sen Sharma & Ratna Pathak Shah. It revolves about four girls- burqa-clad college girl, a young beautician, a mother of three and a 55-year-old widow who rediscovers her sexuality. You must catch this when it’s officially released. Apart from that, celebrated filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped is also a must watch. Written by Amit Joshi & Hardik Mehta, this one features the very talented Rajkumar Rao. The film is about a man who gets trapped in his own house at a high rise building with no escape route. Let me tell you, this one received a standing ovation from the crowd – it discussed urban fears in the film right from Nomophobia to FOMO to loneliness to the fear of animals. Very well made. There was also another film entitled Mantra which tells the story of 1991, when India opened up its economy to the world, forever changing the landscape of the country. This one stars Kalki Koelchin, Rajat Kapoor and Shiv Pandit. Then there was Personal Shopper , which was alright in my opinion. Starring Kristen Stewart, the film revolves around a supernatural story that takes place in the fashion underworld of Paris. It seemed to have gotten extreme reviews. Some people absolutely loved it while some absolutely disliked it.
Day 7 – I began the last day of MAMI 2016 by attending a talk on fashion in films which was moderated by Karan Johar and also had Katrina Kaif, Prabal Gurung and Chirstian Louboutin. It was quite an interesting conversation and being a fashion blogger, I know I had to cover this one. Here are some anecdotes from the entire session – According to Louboutin, finding the right shoes changes your body language entirely. Karan Johar added that when KKHH had released, even his milkman wanted to wear the POLO T shirt that SRK wore in one of the songs. That T shirt became a rage. He claims that his quirk is in the costumes of his films. Katrina added that one should use fashion to their advantage. In her next movie, Jagga Jasoos, she’d be wearing very simple and organic materials, all sourced from a store called ‘deformation’. Go figure!
I ended my MAMI 2016 experience by attending the last session of 11 fabulous short films. My favourite was MALA, a very relatable short film, that starred Sayani Gupta and was directed by Kaushik Roy and it has already travelled to Cannes 2016. Mala is a story of a girl whose dream is to become a filmmaker opposed to that of her family which is to get her married at the earliest. She makes her way to Mumbai for the film festival after lying to her family, only to discover a new journey. The other short films were also very engaging!
All in all, I had an all rounded experience this year -MAMI 2016 was not just only a platform for Indian, regional & international films, but it was also a fabulous way to learn alot about films through their discussions, a take on web series, the growing industry of short films and even the whole virtual reality side of things. There are some films which I missed out on but I’d like to catch them when they release. This includes – Manchester By The Sea, The Salesman, LOEV and Graduation. So yeah, those who attended MAMI, tell me if you agree with my list or not. And those who didn’t manage to attend MAMI this year, I hope I helped in recommending some films that you’ll not regret watching. Can’t wait for next year now.