The Mumbai Film Festival has returned as Jio MAMI 2015, and this year, once again, there’s an eclectic collection of world cinema for film enthusiasts in the city.
There are, of course, international festival darlings like Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, David Guggenheim’s He Named Me Malala, Mirlan Abdykalykov’s Heavenly Nomadic, Paul Thomas Anderson’s documentary Junun, Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room, Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America, Nanni Moretti’s My Mother, Michel Gondry’s Microbe and Gasoline and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth – having played across festivals like Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance, London, Toronto, Locarno and Busan.
But it’s the Indian line-up this year that has garnered the maximum attention, and rightfully so. For the first time, there will be a large group of talented Indian filmmakers having their domestic premieres at the festival – with films that have already made waves at other festivals in 2015. You’ve been hearing about their names and awards, and now they’re here, to have their first theatrical screenings in India.
Here’s a list of Indian films you cannot miss at JioMAMI 2015:
Director: Raam Reddy
The 25-year old Prague film school graduate filmmaker’s Kannada-language Thithi is the only Indian film in the international competition category, much like young Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court last year. It won two awards earlier this year including the top prize for best debut feature at the 2015 Locarno International Film Festival. Co-written by Ere Gowda, it is shot with non-professional actors and portrays how three generations of a family react to the death of their 101-year patriarch in rural Karnataka.
Director: Prashant Nair
The audience-award winner in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, this tale chronicles the journey of young Ramakant – essayed by Life Of Pi’s Suraj Sharma – from his village to America to look for his older brother, whose mythical letters back home are discovered to be fake. Nair’s film has been praised for its understanding of America as a concept more than a physical place, and the complexities and culture interpretations that lie behind its ‘exotic’ label.
3. Island City
Director: Ruchika Oberoi
The winner of the FEDORA prize for best young director at the Venice Film Festival, this NFDC production (also a part of the 2012 Screenwriters’ Lab) is made up of three short stories – of a middle-aged office worker, the family of a man on life support and a young woman – connected by the contradictions that exist in the city of Mumbai. It stars Vinay Pathak, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Amruta Subhash and Samir Kochchar.
Dhanush’s second experimental production after Kaaka Muttai was the second Indian film at Venice this year, and the first-ever Tamil-language film to be in competition there. It won the prestigious ‘Cinema for Human Rights’ award, and is based on the short story Lock Up written by an auto driver from Coimbatore based on his own experiences – about the atrocities Indian inmates go through in prisons. It received an 8-minute-long standing ovation at Venice, and going by the reviews, it seems to be a sure-shot contender in the ‘India Gold’ section.
5. Chauthi Koot
Director: Gurvinder Singh
Set against the backdrop of the 80s Sikh Separatist movement in a post-Operation-Blue-Star Punjab, the Punjabi film chronicles the journey of two Hindus traveling to Amritsar. The second Indian film at Cannes this year along with Masaan, Singh’s film was singled out for its minimalist style and technical adequacy, as well as its commitment to a harrowing tale in the most explosive era in post-Independent India.
Director: Hansal Mehta
The opening film of this festival, Aligarh
is based on the real life
story of a homosexual Marathi professor who was caught and fired for an incident,
before he was later found dead in mysterious circumstances. This is Mehta’s follow-up to his national award winning Shahid
, and has been lauded at festivals like Busan
and BFF (London)
for its brave yet naturalistic approach to storytelling, its ability to bring to light the wrongful relevance of sexual orientation in this country, as well as bravado performances by Manoj Bajpai
and Rajkummar Rao
7. Placebo (documentary)
Director: Abhay Kumar
28-year old Kumar spent a year following a few students of the prestigious medical institution AIMMS in Delhi, trying to capture the pressures and pitfalls faced by India’s brightest in a stifling environment. His ‘hybrid’ documentary, a result of the fusion of animation and other stylistic narrative devices with real footage, has already premiered at IDFA Amsterdam, followed by screenings at Hot Docs, New York and Austin. The film took four years to finish in three countries; this will be its Indian premiere, followed by Dharamsala Film Festival.
Director: Shlok Sharma
Already having done the rounds at NYIFF and IFFLA, the Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer is centered around an extramarital relationship between a teacher and student (Shweta Tripathi) in a small Gujarati town.
A winner for the best feature-length film voted by a children’s International Jury at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival, Kukunoor’s Rajasthani tale about two siblings traversing the vivid landscape has won hearts in children’s film festivals across the globe. It plays as part of the newly formed Half Ticket category at JioMAMI.
Director: Q (Qaushiq Mukherjee)
After the explosive controversial indie Gandu and the bizarre Tasher Desh, the Bengali maverick (co-directing with Nikon) is back with Ludo – an entry into the delicious After Dark category at this year’s festival. Hailed as the ultimate Indian genre film, it is about four teenagers who spend the night in a mall looking for privacy. Of course, this becomes a house of horrors after the inclusion of an old woman and a Ludo board – and has captured, as well as violated imaginations across the globe with its distinct imagery of cannibalism, blood, gore and sex.