When you turn into Teflon and words like family and friends and everything connected to them fall away for a week of single-minded worship. When your best friend is the chai guy at the screens because he knows you like milk on the side. When you smile with gratitude to the usher who knows you have smuggled enough chocolate into the theatre that could send you into diabetic coma but lets you go with an understanding smile. When you don’t want to sit next to anyone you know because they will want to talk during the film. That’s what happens to most cinephiles at the Mumbai Film Festival brought to you by Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI).
The 21st Mumbai Film Festival, also known as the MAMI Festival, has begun already and will be on till October 24 across multiple venues in Mumbai.
This year, as with every year, one will try to make the most of 200 films from around the world, also documentaries and short films. So as always we shall try to make the most of the festival by watching five films a day for seven days.
Engage with Bollywood celebs week
This time the organisers had an interesting ‘engage with Bollywood celebs’ week to get the newbies and the news media stir crazy. Who wants to know about cinema from Karan Johar -- the man who has made hugely popular cinema, or from sort of Indie filmmakers who share their struggles with young filmmakers, writers et al with dreams of making it big some day. Young critics were cloistered in a hotel, learning their craft from speakers both native and international.
What I learn from every film festival is story telling. Compelling stories that stick a knife into your gut and then yank it out as if making thousand pieces of your insides, turning your brains into mush. I want to enjoy every single colour and sound and image of cinema that cannot be ignored.
This is Geetu Mohandas’s film
Moothon which opens this festival. Fitting, isn’t it? The search of a young lad for his brother lost in the underbelly of Bombay. What a great move by the organisers for choosing this film over any Bollywood or populist Hollywood offering they usually bring… Must-watch movies
So what are the movies that seem unmissable?
Let me begin with some regrets, because too many great films are vying for my attention. Werner Herzog’s
Family Romance, French film Deerskin, a film about a man obsessed with his tassled leather jacket, the hand-painted animation film Bombay Rose, a story of a flower seller who has to choose between family commitments and love, David Lynch’s stunning Blue Velvet, the brilliant animation of a love triangle of No.7 Cherry Lane, What She Said: The Art Of Pauline Kael, a film about my favourite film critic of all time… So many more…
But here is a list of must watch films. From Almodovar to Scorsese, these films are easy crowd pullers. Who am I to persuade you otherwise?
Armpit hair notwithstanding,
Pain And Glory is Almodovar’s cinematic self examination, with eternal crowd-pleasers Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas in starring roles.
Did you have to study Conrad’s
Heart Of Darkness in a Literature class you took at college? If not, you have perhaps seen Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha starrer Kala Patthar. Now you get to watch the same story unfold in space in the film Ad Astra, with Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones battling their inner demons in space. VIDEO
Atlantics is a surefire Oscars contender. A film that comes out of Africa and directed by a woman Mati Diop, tells the story of a missing lad and the women he has left behind…
It’s always a pleasure to discover how and what Ken Loach is thinking. Last year he gave us a brilliant take down of the way government rules are not meant for the common man. How Daniel is unable to access the unemployment benefits with the brilliant film
I, Daniel Blake. Before that he gave us whiskey mellow drama with The Angel’s Share. This year I will be crazy to miss the sort of sequel to Daniel Blake called Sorry We Missed You. An incisive look at deliveries... VIDEO
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in
The Lighthouse promises to be another harrowing tale of inner voices that can drive a man mad. Say whatever you wish, but movies like Good Time and Cosmopolis are reasons I will forgive Robert Pattinson all the vampire movies he made. VIDEO
Am going out on a limb here to say that I want to watch Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in
Marriage Story just so I can sigh into my coffee and then try to run to watch Adam Driver again in The Report, a film about how CIA operates after 9/11. VIDEO
The good part about some of these international movies, is that the streaming services will bring your these films in the next few months. And I’m grateful for that.
Martin Scorcese came under a lot of flak from Marvel fans when he dissed Superhero films. But everyone will be pushing to book
The Irishman, an all too familiar tale of Mafia men with the all too familiar cast:
I love whitewall tyres on cars and such films make you wish you lived in an earlier time. When the guns were aplenty and men were mensch.
Will keep you updated with more films that I plan to watch, from the super horror of
Midsommer to a remastered version of the classic Alien. Until then I’m going to practise how to say, ‘Bah!’ the way Mexicans do and melt when the word ‘Ljubav!’ shows up in a Croatian movie and you know that word means love... 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