Right from its announcement, it was clear that the 17th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival would be bigger, better and grander than ever. It’s only fitting then that the festival should have a grand beginning, isn’t it?
After a star-studded opening ceremony, the first day of the festival kicked off with a stunning Kalbelia dance performance. The performances kickstarted the first day on a high note, brightening up every attendee’s morning. But that’s not all. The enthusiasm in the air was increased by the cheers that resounded from the Half Ticket screening of Dhanak. After all, is there anything more cheerful than happy children? We don’t think so!
If you couldn’t be at the festival, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what Day 1 of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival was like:
Dir: Lukas Valenta Rinner | Argentina, Austria
One of the first films in the International Competition, Parabellum takes us to a small town in Argentina, whose locals are convinced that the apocalypse is coming. They join a survival boot camp, where they are taught botany, camouflage and other survival skills. What follows is a riveting examination of mortality, civilization and the effect impending death can have on a person’s mind. Beautifully shot, Parabellum is first and foremost a visual delight. The film is melancholic, insightful and memorable. To say that the film is anything but a breath of fresh air in the genre would be a gross understatement!
Stay tuned for more live updates on the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival!
Dir: Neelesha Barthel | Germany
Every year, viewers are treated to a myriad of films about the big fat Indian wedding. However, it is rare to see an outsider’s perspective on the phenomenon. And especially one that is well-made. Marry Me! is one of the films that gives us a unique insight on the great Indian wedding circus. It shows us what happens when Kissy’s life is turned upside down by a visit from her long-lost Indian grandmother. When she demands that Kissy marry Robert, the father of her child, the couple orchestrate a fake wedding– one that turns out to be a roller-coaster ride. The product is colorful, lively and entertaining. It is a lighthearted film that takes on a topic we all love to hate. For the most part, the film does this with a great deal of authenticity, partly because of its familiar characters. From the sassy grandmother to the commitment-phobe, each character will remind you of someone you know. This keeps the film fresh and relatable. Unfortunately, some of the characters tend to feel cliched and caricaturish. Moreover, some of the sub-plots are a little too far-fetched, taking away from the film’s impact. All things considered, Neelesha Barthel‘s directorial debut is an entertaining, if slightly flawed, look at India and its eccentricities!
Dir: Hansal Mehta | India
In Aligarh, Manoj Bajpayee‘s character jokes about how today’s generation is quick to label things "fabulous, fantastic, super, superb, cool or awesome". Ironically, all of these words come to mind when describing his performance in the film.
Aligarh is the true story of Dr. S. R. Siras, a professor who was suspended from Aligarh University after his homosexuality became public knowledge. The film traces Siras’ journey, as he struggles with his newfound status as the face of a cause while trying to get his dignity back. Along the way, he finds an unlikely ally in Deepu Sebastian (Rajkumar Rao), a journalist who sets out to fight for Siras’ rights.
Aligarh takes on a topic that has long been considered taboo in Indian society. It does this with tact, making the film one of the most powerful pieces of Indian cinema we’ve seen in a while. The film is an eye-opener in its approach to human sexuality and fundamental rights. Though it is backed by Apurva Asrani‘s remarkable script and powerful dialogues, Aligarh’s main strength lies in its actors’ performances. Manoj Bajpayee is outstanding as Dr. Siras. His sincere performance can evoke sympathy in the biggest cynic, showing viewers why the actor has managed to survive in the cutthroat film industry for over two decades. Rajkumar Rao is also noteworthy in his depiction of Deepu. However, it is the duo’s rapport with each other that is behind some of the film’s most heart-rending moments.
All things considered, Hansal Mehta‘s masterpiece is a well-written, visually stunning film backed by noteworthy performances. Aligarh was, indeed, the perfect film to kickstart the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival!