Waiting for the auditorium gates to open at Mumbai Film Festival.

Watching films has been a part of my lifestyle since childhood. I love attending film festivals since the year 1991. The very first film festival that I attended was Mumbai International Film Festival, organized by Government of India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s, Film Divisions. Since then, till date I keep a track of the film festival calendar around me. The latest one which I attended was Jio MAMI 19th Mumbai Film Festival. Starting from 12th October to 18th October’2017, over a span of 7 days, 200 films were screened at 18 screens across Mumbai. Reliance Jio & Star TV network were the major sponsors of this festival. MAMI is an acronym for Mumbai Academy of Moving Images, which is a public trust that annually organizes Mumbai Film Festival. Since 1997 the trust has organized the festival with the sole objective of offering a platform to showcase good world class cinema. In recent years the trust has tied up with corporate sponsors to increase the outreach of the film festival.

Q and A session of actors and technician after the screening of film ‘What People Will Say’?

This year the festival dates were very close to Diwali- The Indian festival of lights. I am sure like me many film buffs must have juggled between festive shopping, work and catching up with world class movies at the Mumbai Film Festival. In the many films I saw over a week’s span, the films that laid strong impact on my mind were ‘What people will say?’, ‘Beauty and the Dogs’, ‘Call me by your Name’ & ‘Ask the Sexpert!

Beautiful festive decoration at Kurla Pheonix Mall

‘What people will say?’ is directed by Iram Haq, who is also the main female lead of the film. The film is a cathartic real-life biopic of the struggle Iram underwent to defend her identity. Hailing from the Pakistani community in Norway, teenager Iram is trapped between two worlds. The Western life outside and the conservative Pakistani traditions inside her home creates turmoil in her head.

Joyful decoration around the INOX cinema hall at Kurla Pheonix Mall.

After being intimately caught with her boyfriend her father sends her to Pakistan to learn Pakistani way of life, but eventually she becomes a misfit there too. Summoned back to Norway, Iram finally sets her own path to liberty. Iram’s father goes to the extent of attempting an honour killing! He is afraid of ‘What people will say?’ if they hear of his daughter’s ‘immoral’ (read as culturally inappropriate) acts! Here’s the trailer link of the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8_dBOzufWQ

Mesmerizing glass decoration at the Kurla Pheonix mall.

Caught him between the chairs! Clicked Dr. Mahinder Wasta (Sexologist) during Q & A session after the screening of the documentary ‘Ask the Sexpert’ in which he is featured.

‘Beauty & the Dogs’ (Aala Kaf Ifrit), directed by Khaled Walid Barsaoui & Kaouther Ben Hania, is set in post revolution Tunisia. One night, the female protagonist of the film gets gang raped by policemen and the film traces her journey throughout the night as she struggles towards lodging a police case to arrest the culprits. Since corruption is rampant everywhere and deviants from the social order rule the roost finally at dawn she is shown withdrawing her complain and heading back to her college hostel. The lead actress, Meriam Al Farjani has performed brilliantly along with her co-actor Ghanem Zrelli.

My id card and kit bag for Mumbai Film Festival.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, ‘Call me by your Name’ is a gay romantic movie. It is an English film which beautifully has depicted the blooming of gay romance at an Italian countryside town. For the first time I saw a film which has shown the graceful brewing of love between a gay couple. The various locations the couple meet, the way they sneak out to meet each other and finally the way they depart by deciding to call each other by their name’ is beautifully presented by the filmmaker! Here’s the trailer of the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9AYPxH5NTM

Preparations for Diwali- My mother with powder art called Rangoli.

A very interesting documentary which I just managed to catch up with was ‘Ask the Sexpert’. Directed by Vaishali Sinha, the 83 mins long documentary features Dr. Mahinder Watsa, who is India’s most popular Sexologist. The film is an account of Dr. Watsa’s medical career and how through his newspaper column in a Mumbai daily he guides people on living a sexually healthy life.

Waiting for the film to start!

Most of the interviews are candid and the best part the film highlights is Dr. Watsa’s modus operandi in treating patients. Getting to see a sexologist offer consultations on carnal issues is a very confidential matter, but patients have volunteered to be filmed in the documentary, which gives a good insight of how Dr. Watsa counsels his patients. Here’s the teaser of the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yRR1_VU1cQ

Peacock designed powder art (Rangoli) and lamps glowing at our door step during Diwali

All in all the festival was well organized in most of the INOX cinema theatres in town and suburbs of Mumbai. The best INOX cinema theatre I liked was at Pheonix Kurla Mall. The mall was glittering with Diwali decorations that was sprawling all over the stores and it was a pleasant feeling to see happy faces around. At home while preparations of Diwali were in full swing it was nice to catch up with good films that kindled my intellectual lamps while I celebrated this year’s Diwali with heartfelt smiles!

Photo Credit: Shraddha. C. Sankulkar

Films, lights & smiles at this Diwali’2017.