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The 16th Mumbai Film Festival | MAMI 2014
While we were busy with the routine hop-skip and jumping between one fashion week to another, we just didn't how realize that it's Mid - October. Well, for film buffs in the city, October means just one thing - Mumbai Film Festival. Yes, its that time of the year again when cinema aficionados are offered a delightful bouquet of world cinema, ranging from Russian, French, Japanese to Indian regional language films and more. Our rendezvous with World Cinema started on Day 1 at Cinemax Versova this year, but boy, did the election delay create a frenzy at the registration desk or what! Nevertheless, the going was good and we thankfully reached Screen 2 to witness the legendary Akira Kurosawa's magic unfold on screen, just in time.
No one can shoot a film with great aesthetics, harsh locations and flawless casting the way Kurosawa did. After all, his films were known to have expensive production requirements. Having seen some of his work including Throne of Blood, Rashomon, High and Low, Yojimbo among others (and being a self confessed fan), I was excited to watch his 1975 masterpiece, Dersu Uzala. A simple film based on the 1923 memoir (by the same name) penned by Vladimir Arsenyve, it explores the life of a Goldi hunter named Dersu Uzala, his knowledge of the wild, relationship with Captain Arseniev and more. The basic plot shows how those living in the wild were content with their lifestyle, until civilization took over and changed their life forever.
But what stayed with me were the beautiful moments brought to life on screen by Kurosawa and his team of actors. Maxim Munzuk as Uzala is simply delightful! His relationship with Arseniev, essayed beautifully by Yuri Gantman, might just make you shed a tear or bring a warm smile on your face. When Uzala realizes that he cannot hit the perfect aim anymore, he is devastated, and tries to hit the aim at his own glove, before realizing that something is indeed amiss. Kurosawa blends in an individual's struggle with old age with perfection. It also shows that merely assuming that a wild or village folk is an illiterate ain't fair. They may not go to a traditional school, but they memorize, grasp and learn from everything that they encounter in their daily life. Uzala does that too, and that's how his journey with Arseniev begins. Kurosawa indeed made my afternoon with this magical offering!
Moving from one maverick to another (and from Screen 2 to Screen 3), Kurosawa's Soviet and Japanese co-production venture was followed by a French documentary (albeit uniquely presented) titled Mr Leos CaraX. This melange of interviews, clips from his popular films like Boy Meets Girl, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf among others and anecdotes made for an interesting watch. It may not be an in-depth, insightful offering, but definitely proved to be a perfect window for those, who have never experienced his work in the past. Carax is not your usual film-maker, mind you! He is known for films with dream-like imagery, physical humour and dark romance.
Just as the closing credits of Mr. X rolled out, I got ready for another marvellous cinematic experience. This time, in my mother tongue - Marathi. I stood in a never-ending queue, to watch a Marathi film with film buffs (it was a full house) who were just as excited as I was. Maybe it was the popularity of Marathi cinema that drew them here, or perhaps the fact that this film had won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale earlier this year. There was something enchanting about the stills that we had all seen. And just when the film opened, we all witnessed a spectacular visual treat. Well, I shall discuss the film in detail in a separate post.
The film festival continued to keep me entertained with some spectacular films. Right from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to Court, Siddhant to Chauranga, Fever to Barf, it was like traveling through different countries with the help of an eclectic mix of films made for the global audience. Was I impressed? Oh boy, I sure am. Every year, the Mumbai Film Festival mesmerizes me with the bouquet of films presented by them and this year was no different. Each film has stayed with me for various reasons and has taught me a lot more about the way cinema works.
And now, I am sure all the fellow film buffs have begun the countdown to the 17th edition and are missing the daily walk between Cinemax and PVR ECX (with the schedule in their hand) already.