Old and New Cinematic Voices from Mumbai By Premendra N. Mazumder

in 10th Mumbai International Film Festival

by Premendra Mazumder

The 7 th edition of the International film festival of Mumbai (January 6 – 13, 2005) was indeed an excellent experience. Mumbai (previously known as Bombay), on the western coast of India on the Arabian sea, the capital of the Indian film industry, hosted the festival with a pleasant warmth both in its climate and cultural ambiance. The festival is organised by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Images in collaboration with the P.L.Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academ, co-organised by Y.B.Chavan Pratisthan and the National Film Development Corpn. Ltd. and supported by the Government of Maharashtra. Mr. Shyam Benegal, the legendary film-maker of India is the Chairman of the festival.

At a very colourful opening ceremony on a January evening in the presence of the glamorous celebrities of the film industry, the chief minister of the state congratulated the all-time popular singing & dancing hero of the Bollywood cinema Mr. Shammi Kapoor with the Lifetime Achievement Award while the Kodak Award for Technical Excellence was conferred on the legendary film technician Mr. Babubhai Mistry. Also at the glittering closing ceremony, Mr. Nasiruddin Shah, the outstanding actor of the Indian cinema, was awarded the Significant Contribution to the Cinema over 25 Years and Mr. Manna Dey was also given an award for his Contribution to the Music in Films.

The festival had different sections, such as, Indian Film Competition, Global Vision, Film India Worldwide, FIPRESCI Award Winners, Focus on Brazil , Chilean Films, New French Filmmakers, Contemporary Films from Sweden , Tribute to Karel Kachyna, Filmmaker in Focus: Peter Greenaway, Midday-Newsfront, and a Digital section with films from Colombia, Poland, Italy, Serbia & Montenergo, China and Iran.

In the Indian Film Competition Section there were fifteen Indian films in different languages. The films were Aabar Aashbo Phire (Unfinished Matters / Bengali / 2004 / 35mm / 188 min / Dir. Ravi Ojha), Amu (English / 2004 / 35 mm / 102 min / Dir. Shonali Bose), Bow Barracks Forever (English / 2004 / 35 mm / 118 min / Dir. Anjan Dutt), Chai Pani Etc (Chai Pani Etc / Hindi / 2004 / 35 mm / 92 min / Dir. Manu Rewal), Devrari (Sacred Grove / Marathi / 2004 / 35 mm / 108 min / Dir. Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukthankar), In Othelo (English / 2004 / 35 mm / 90 min / Dir. Roysten Abel), Juye Poora Xoon (The Self Triumphs / Assamese / 2004 / 35 mm / 105 min / Dir. Sanjib Sabhapandit), Lakshya (Objective / Hindi / 35 mm / 2004 / 185 min / Dir. Farhan Khan), Mansarovar (Unfinished Matters / English / 2004 / 35 mm / 90 mins / Dir. Anup Kurien), Morning Raga (English / 2004 / 35 mm / 96 min / Dir. Mahesh Dattani), Phir Milenge (We’ll Meet Again / Hindi / 2004 / 35 mm / 122 min / Dir. Revathy), Sancharam (The Journey / Malayalam / 2004 / 35 min / 107 min / Dir. Ligy J. Pullappally), Sau Jhooth Ek Sach (A Hundred Lies and One Truth / Hindi / 2004 / 35 mm / 110 min / Dir. Bappaditya Roy), Sobhayatra (The Pageant / Hindi / 2004 / 35 mm / 100 min / Dir. Vijay Ghatge) and Shwaas (Breath / Marathi / 2004 / 35 mm / 106 min / Dir. Sandeep Sawant). Out of these fifteen films Mansarovar, Amu, Shwaas, Sancharam, Morning Raga and Bow Barracks Forever are very good. Mansarovar is an extraordinary love story of this cyber age made in a poetic manner with the backdrop of the exotic natural beauty of India . Amu deals with the very sensitive political issues of the 1984 Delhi riots with a human touch. Sancharam is another very sensitive story of the love affairs between two young girls in the rural Kerala. The very complicated relationship is depicted in a very lyrical style.

The film from Sri Lanka made by the veteran woman film-maker Sumithra Peries deserves special mention. Sakman Maluwa (The Garden / 2003 / 110 min) is a very cool and pleasant film. The film very sensitively depicts a marital relationship in which, a surface contentment masks the essential separateness of the partners.

Though all the Asian films were under consideration for the FIPRESCI award, it was conferred on Amu for its excellence. It is the first full-length feature film of the director. The International Jury, under the chairmanship of the famous film maker Mr. Adoor Gopalkrishnan, awarded Mansarovar the Best Film and the Special Jury Award was conferred on Atul Kulkarni for his excellent performances in Devarai and Mansarovar. All the awards consist of a trophy, certificates and cash prizes of a total amount of about 5,000 US $, shared amongst the recipients.

The festival held in three theatres in a single complex and one at the other end of the city was attended by thousands of enthusiastic delegates and press and media representatives regularly. Amongst the delegates, there were a remarkable portion of young cinema lovers and film personalities as well. Most of the shows played to packed houses. There were press conferences, seminars and all other related items, which increased the glamour of the festival. The festival, with its growing popularity, is playing a vital role in filmland itself. The typical Bollywood production is also showing interest in the festival and coming closer to it. No doubt, in future, the festival is going to be the most attractive, important and glamorous event on the subcontinent.