My life only gets more exciting as days go by while this city of impossibilities turning to possibilities continues to bring dreams alive. Somebody asked me today what the significance of the International Film Festival which is being held in Mumbai as we speak, is, and I jogged back in memory so many years ago when I stepped into this city to become a film maker and remembered, how at the time we were so hungry to see world cinema to understand how we could shape and sculpt our futures, while it was but a privelege for just a few. Video cassettes and VCR's were rare at the time and DVD's were not even imagined to be true. Then we would grab a video cassette of any great film that we could lay our hands on, and huddle together in the house of a friend who owned a VCR and watch the film so many times over, that by the time the cassette went back to the library, it wasn't watchable anymore. We would sit for hours discussing each aspect of the film with each other. Some of us were aspiring actors, some writers, some aspiring directors and other aspirants like music composers, lyricists etc. We all had our points of view and we would discuss each scene like there was a story behind each shot, each performance, each dialogue and each stroke of violins which played in the background score believing that it was used by the director to convey something. Those who were actually able to attend the Festivals of films at Cannes, Venice and Berlin were so few and so envied that we would await information from them on their return to know what was happening in the world of Cinema. Then we would start hunting for those films to be available to us through friends who would return from abroad or at the video library. As things changed and technology grew everyone became isolated in their approach to cinema. Right till the time LD's were the rule, we would exchange and borrow films from each other, therefore discuss the films we were sharing. DVD's changed all that, and intense discussion of each film became remote. We were left with just a question or two to ask each other, like, "Have you seen this film?" and "Did you like it?" and "Uh... ah!... I must try and catch it soon as well".
Then finally, world cinema came to our doorstep through MAMI and we started to devour films like there was no tomorrow, often watching three to four films a day for almost 10 days and stepping out for discussions and analysis of each film with whoever was interested in talking. Everyone was, and everyone till date is. That to me is the significance of the Festival of Films in Mumbai. The fact that the entire fraternity is walking in and out of theatres and talking over coffees, lunch and dinner during breaks about what they saw and what they made of it, makes me feel energised, enthusiastic and full of zest for life. Because, while everyone at the theatres during the festival is a lover of cinema, those in the business of Films are obssessive and cumpulsive and desperately hooked to a way of life which they can experience once a year at the most, either in Mumbai, Pune or Goa. I'm now hearing of International Film Festivals in Nashik, Indore, Ahmedabad and other cities in India as well. World Cinema throws open the doors of our mind to absorb the time and space we live in emotionally, and enables us to connect with the depths explored through characters, music, imaging and technology, by awakening our senses to the way people who look different and speak different languages, feel. Felicitating Shashi Kapoor for a lifetime of Achievement were Ambika Soni, Tina Ambani and my favorite Amit Khanna at the opening ceremony which was compered by Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar.
Total credit to BIG Cinemas and BIG Motion Pictures for having supported another spectacular event in such terrible times for the industry which is reeling in shock with the impact of not expecting change when it happened. Fun Cinema's is the perfect venue for the week long festival and the two days which I have attended so far have been surreal. I'm in conflict as I deal with a sense of deja vu when I meet with people I haven't seen in ages, and an excitement about what lies in store for me in the coming days. I actually feel like doing nothing else but hanging out there, but hate the fact that life takes me away from there every now and then.
Like it did on the 31st October, which was Halloween, when I was seduced to attend the irresistible party hosted by the most amazing Nisha Harale and Adam Bedi at Elbow Room in Bandra. Fulfilled emotionally after having seen 'Eden is West' Directed by Costa Gavras, which was a compelling story of the tragedy behind illegal immigration in Europe and which had moved me enough to smile through the 1 hour and 50 mins of its duration, getting unmasked at a mad party over vodka shots was the perfect end to a fabulous day. I was with Salim Asgarally who was nervous about the gowns he had designed for the girls on the ramp for the Miss Mumbai beauty pageant to be held the next day, as he smiled at almost everybody he met like he was there to make their evening for them. Umesh Pherwani, Soketu Parekh, Sidhartha Kanan, Rahul Dacunha and many other lovely friends were there and Ranjit took these awesome pictures for me to use here. The party rolled on as we left it pumping to get some food at well, hours past midnight. There was nowhere other than Bandra Station we could find to stuff our faces with Tangdi, chicken rolls and boti kebabs.