You get to know the ushers by their names, the gigantic security guard lady (whom you nicknamed Helga) now smiles at you, the tea tapri opposite the cinema begins to make tea without sugar for all saab-log, the bread pakoda guy asks before slathering strange shiny-green chutney on the serving (I am sure it is made of radioactive coriander), and the fancy deli which makes a great house blend of coffee chooses to serve you quickly because you quietly muttered ‘Jai Maharashtra’ and spoke in Marathi to the server. All this between four screenings a day.
The weather has tested our patience, veering wildly between super hot and super stormy (thunder, lightning et all!), but people shared umbrellas, brought extra idlis for those in the queue… And generally behaved very well.
That’s when the films seem to get better and better. This is where I make deep bows to a filmmaker who has time and again aimed at my heart, just tapped into it, and then neatly extricated it, wrung it, tied it with a bow and returned it to its original place. And that filmmaker is Ken Loach. He is so good they did not give him yet another Palme d’Or because he’d got one the year before. When you watch this fabulous film
Sorry We Missed You you will know why. It’s a story about Ricky and Abbey Turner, working hard to make ends meet to keep their family of four afloat. Ricky (Kris Hitchin) joins a big delivery service for an online shopping company. The job promises big and even though the family makes sacrifices of their present for a better future, things begin to unravel. VIDEO
I watched the film squirming in my seat simply because I have never given any thought to how these things I order online reach me, as long as ‘Prime’ membership gives me one-day delivery. Suddenly Ricky’s troubles become mine. His tenuous connect with his rebellious son who is not communicating any more becomes mine. His wife needing that break from trying to make ends meet is really me. And their little girl scared of the arguments at home remind me of my past. I sneak a look at people sitting next to me. Everyone is hiding lumps in throats, but no one deny that this one filmmaker makes you worry for his characters effortlessly. As a friend pointed out, ‘When Scorsese’s characters need to kill someone or blow up a rival’s factory to make that extra cash on the side, their family life is never really shown to be on the brink. And here, when Ricky is fined for that broken contraption (that customers put their signatures on), everyone in the theater gasps audibly, because we are collectively rooting for Ricky. We are involved.’
This is truly powerful cinema. Last year it was the powerful
I, Daniel Blake, and before that the delightful Angel’s Share... VIDEO
As soon as I switch my phone on, there is a message about email from Vijay Subramaniam, Director and the Head of Content on Amazon Prime Video in India. Such a mind-blowing coincidence. He has answered my questions about their connect with MAMI and how they choose content for us the greedy subscribers.
He says, ‘Overall viewing (in terms of hours watched) on Prime Video has grown 10 times in the last two years! Prime Video is now watched by customers in over 4,000 cities and towns across India. One of the big drivers of our success in India has been our Amazon India Originals which have resonated very well with audiences.’
I watch movies other than Bollywood on Amazon Prime Video, that I’m curious about the content that is being ‘greenlighted’, and his answer will make many hopeful storytellers happy.
‘We are committed to bringing new, ground-breaking shows based on compelling story lines to India. We showcase content to our customers in high quality, with film caliber production, and coming from exceptional writers. Also, we endeavour to take stories from India – the real, quintessentially Indian stories to a global stage. In recent years, the quality of content coming out of India has found resonance with customers across the globe and they want to see more and more content from India’s lens. Amazon Original Series like
Breathe, Mirzapur, Made in Heaven, The Family Man etc. have done really well in geographies outside of India with Inside Edge being the first Indian series to have been nominated under ‘Best Drama’ category for International Emmy’s 2018 edition. It is interesting to note that this is in the absence of any marketing in these locales. International viewers will seek out and watch high-quality content with underlying themes that are universal and we will continue to offer exciting content to our global customers.’
The future looks rather interesting for Prime viewers.
'We have an interesting line-up of shows on the anvil, especially during the year-end festivities. In recent times, we’ve successfully launched blockbuster hits namely,
Batla House (Hindi), Evaru (Telugu), Saaho (Telugu & Tamil), Jackpot (Tamil), Chal Mera Putt (Punjabi), Ambili (Malayalam) among others. We announced our first regional Amazon Original Series with Comicstaan Tamil.'
Amazon Prime was very early in partnering with MAMI for early screenings of their Indian originals and international shows, and the members of the MAMI year-long programme have been winners.
I get frantic calls from friends in the queue for the next movie. My love affair with the movies continues as I put life on hold for more silver screen magic and merge into the line...
VIDEO Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. Read her columns