Long queues of mostly youngsters and celebrities are a common sight at the 13th Mumbai Film Festival, which is attracting huge crowds thanks to the excellent lineup of nearly 200 films, many of which had made it to Cannes.
"In the last two years, the festival has become very good. The films that I missed at Cannes, I am watching here. So far I have watched seven films. I have seen films like 'The Artist’, ‘The Slut’ and ’17 Girls’,” Anurag Kashyap told IANS.
Actress Sarika, who is in the jury panel, feels “a film festival has a definite character as you get to see films which are not even available on DVDs and these people have achieved it by bringing such films. They have an excellent lineup.”
The mega fest is a Reliance Entertainment initiative and being organised by MAMI. Cinemax, Versova is the main venue and the films are also being screened at Cinemax, Sion and Big Cinema-Metro, Marine Lines.
If the film enthusiasts are thronging the venues, so are members of the film fraternity - from Tilottama Sen to Rajit Kapoor and Pavan Malhotra to mainstream filmmakers like Kashyap, Tarun Mansukhani and Rohan Sippy.
Veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, his wife Kiran Juneja and Yash Chorpa were also spotted at the venue.
“It is convenient for us to come and watch movies here. When festivals are organised outside Mumbai, we can’t go because of our shooting schedules,” Sarika told IANS.
The locals feel the festival provides a rare opportunity to see quality international cinema.
“We don’t have any major film festivals in the Mumbai calendar, so the hype for the festival is justified,” said Sita Wadhwani, 31, who works as an editor with CNNGO.com.
"There are about 200 films and we get a rare opportunity to watch films that don't have a theatre release. It's fun to wait in queues to watch films. It gives the feel of the festival."
Another young movie enthusiast Sunaina Mahadik said she is enjoying her week. “The movies are good and the festival also brings us friends together and we have a good time as it is a nice festival and the movies are good too,” she added.
Be it French Movie “17 Girls”, Israeli film “The Slut”, German movie “Pina” and Australian offering “Sleeping Beauty” -- people are thronging the theatres for all of them.
Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis, so there are many who don’t get the seat. But they are not disheartened as they simply opt for another good film.
Hugh Hudson, jury president for International Competition section, says the best part about the Mumbai film fest is that it is open for public, whereas “Cannes and Venice film festivals are only for industry people”.
“The best part is all the films are open for public. The quality of films is very high. The festival is growing and I think in the next five years it will become one of the most important film festivals in the world.”
Amit Khanna, chairman, Reliance Entertainment, said the “festival has reached a stage where it has become one of the most important festivals in the world. People around the world are eager to participate in it”.
(Arpana can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)