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MAMI 2018: Wednesday is for wonderment

MAMI 2018: Wednesday is for wonderment

MAMI 2018: Wednesday is for wonderment
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By Manisha Lakhe  Oct 30, 2018 11:15:23 PM IST (Updated)

Today, the writer is going to spend time with chatty French folk, a Sri-Lankan Brit pop star, a Swedish woman who falls in love, a school teacher who wants to be a writer in MAMI.

Instead of being with mum, who celebrates her birthday today, I am going to spend time with chatty French folk, a Sri-Lankan Brit pop star, a Swedish woman who falls in love, a school teacher who wants to be a writer, and a documentary which asks a very basic question: should HIV patients fall in love?

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I remember hating Christmas holidays in 1980 because one had to study for the all important tenth grade exams and everyone else was allowed to watch Mithun Chakraborty starrer movie Disco Dancer. They came back singing songs, played them on cassettes which they guarded from us. Of course, one made up for it, and this cult film has not just inspired many a Halloween costume and themed 80s New Year parties. But a few years ago a song made waves on social media. ‘Have you heard this?’ was the buzz. This was the song:
And today I will watch Matangi aka MIA’s story. Daughter of a Sri Lankan refugee family in the UK, battling not just the obvious difference of colour and culture, but making a place for herself and becoming a pop star. Last year at MAMI, there were films that explored stories of Sri Lankan refugees in France, stories about adjusting and changing relationships and discovering new worlds… Matangi’s story is here:
Lovesick is a documentary that premiered on Tuesday at MAMI. Are HIV positive people allowed to feel the same emotions that you and I feel? Is their love wrong? These very questions are horrible, because who are we to ‘allow’ anything? Who decides whose love is wrong? It was an eye opener and even though most of us go through life thinking ‘It’s not going to happen to us’, it is good to know that the world has people who care about others. I wish more people will get to see this documentary…
Speaking of people who are different from you, the Swedish film Border is about an Immigration officer with abilities to literally sniff out the ‘wrong’ people trying to ‘get in’. It’s also supposed to be a fairy tale of someone who looks different (because of a Chromosomal condition), and we are supposed to love ‘love’. But are her scars deeper than you are being shown? Who is the mysterious person she falls in love with? Director Abbasi tries to question Bollywood/Hollywood feeding our romantic notions: beautiful people falling in love with each other mostly in slow motion, flowers and chocolates and long walks on the beach and so on.
Can you watch someone as visually alarming as the protagonist of the film falling in love, realising who she is? Shrek was easier to take because it was an animated monster. How about the monsters inside of us?
This year, Burning a film based on Haruki Murakami’s short story introduced us to a writer was not really writing, Grass was a delicious film about a writer eavesdropping on coffee shop conversations and now The Wild Pear Tree promises to share with us the relationship between a father and son, when the son is trying to figure out how to get his novel published.
Of course, the director Ceylan is not exactly known to create female characters that are well rounded (they’re mostly throwaway love interests or non-essential sounding boards to the hero), but I’m willing to give this film about a not so lovable writer and his disconnect with his father and his village, a fair chance. Visually, the film looks like a treat.
The first film of the day, because I simply adore the lead actor, I save for the last. TS Eliot talks of ‘Women come and go, talking of Michelangelo’ in his poem The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock, and whenever I watch drawing room films, especially in French, I understand what the poem is saying. You are a part of that terribly chatty, very articulate group of people who speak of culture.
Doubles Vie’ or Double life in French and for the rest of us, Non Fiction, the film stars my all time favourite actor: Juliette Binoche. I do the film injustice because I read everything about Ms Binoche. And yet I have to see her play the actress wife of an author in the film. Of course, as most French films do, this celebrates passion (read: everyone’s having an affair with everyone else, and if people know it doesn’t matter because, passion! Hence the French title), and the film promises chuckles of realisation, and also talks of the sheer madness of being of social media.
If you have thought of how one post on the net could change a literary life, how discussions about books are now Facebook posts and how a Twitter review can ruin or make a film or a book, then this film will offer you a drawing room conversation about just this. I am yet to use the Kindle which was gifted to me a year ago, simply because I love the smell of new books. Could this film rival David Fincher’s The Social Network?
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.
Disclosure: 
Jio MAMI 20th Mumbai Film Festival With Star is sponsored by Reliance Jio, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries that controls Network18, the parent company of CNBCTV18.com.
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