18th Jio MAMI festival opens at iconic Royal Opera House

The 18th MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival opened at iconic Royal Opera House here today, where 175 films from 54 countries will be screened. On the occasion, veteran director-writer Sai Paranjpye, known for helming popular films like Sparsh and Chashme Buddoor, was feted with Indian Excellence in Cinema Award.

The 78-year-old Padma Bhushan awardee was recognised for her valuable contribution to Indian cinema. Besides films, Paranjpye has written and directed many Marathi plays like Jaswandi, Sakkhe Shejari and Albel. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2006 in recognition of her artistic talents. “When people give lifetime achievement awards, may be it is a subtle hint to say you have done enough. I feel privileged to receive the award from Jaya Bachchan in this magnificent phoenix theatre,” Paranjpye said.

Actress Jacqueline Fernandez hosted the event at the iconic Royal Opera House, which reopened after eight years of restoration. Acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke, credited with movies likes Still Life and The World, became the recipient of the International Excellence in Cinema Award at the Festival.

He received the award at the hands of actor Aamir Khan. “It is my first time in Mumbai and in India. I am thrilled to be here. When I was very young, I saw ‘Awara’ and
the film had a very deep impression. I have myself become ‘awara’ in the movie industry. I hope I continue being that,” Jia said.

Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh, Genelia D’Souza, Jackie Shroff, Shabana Azmi, Anurag Kashyap, Imran Khan, Zoya Akhtar and Kunal Kapoor were present at the opening night. The film festival will screen 175 films, including features, documentaries and short films from 54 countries. Actress Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut “A Death in the Gunj” will be the opening film, to be screened tomorrow.

American drama film Manchester by the Sea, directed by Kenneth Lonergan, will close the fest. Turkey has been selected as the country in focus. While cine lovers will miss the critically-acclaimed Pakistani film Jaago Hua Savera, which was dropped from the
line-up owing to protest threat, the festival has made space for interesting movies like Azaad, Trapped, An Insignificant Man and Priyanka Chopra’s maiden Marathi
production Ventilator.

While Azaad is a short film, which has been presented by acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair, An Insignificant Man is a political thriller, chronicling the journey of Delhi Chief
Minister Arvind Kejriwal from a social activist to a controversial politician. It was earlier screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

Trapped, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and starring Rajkummar Rao, is about the survival story of a man who gets stuck in an empty high rise without food, water or
electricity. The film will be screened as part of the new section ‘Spotlight’ to celebrate the diversity of the Indian cinema.

‘Spotlight’ is a segment of films that recognises Indian cinema’s historical trajectories, celebrates its creative impulses and explores its futures. The upcoming Marathi film “Ventilator” is directed by “Ferrai ki Sawari” helmer Rajesh Mapuskar. The film revolves around an ailing senior member of a family, who is being put on the ventilator just days before the popular Ganpati festival, leading to varied degrees of speculation and panic amongst the large coastal clan he belongs to.

The film will be screened under the section ‘Marathi Talkies’. This segment has been launched to celebrate the Marathi cinema. Other films to be showcased this year at Marathi Talkies are “Vakratunda Mahakaya”, “Bioscope” and “Rajwade and Sons”.

American filmmaker Cary Fukunaga will attend the festival and conduct a special masterclass on October 25 at a suburban multiplex in Andheri. It will be the “True Detective” helmer’s maiden visit to India.

The cast and crew of superhit film “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander” will reunite at the festival’s ‘Movie Mela’ and share their experiences and memories on the making of the 1992
cult youth-based film.

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The cast will be part of a panel which will include superstar Aamir Khan, Mamik Singh, Deepak Tijori, Deven Bhojani, Aditya Lakhia, Kiran Zaveri and Pooja Bedi along with
Director Mansoor Khan and choreographer Farah Khan. The ‘Movie Mela’ will be a two-day event to be held at Rangmandir in suburban Bandra.

The venue will be transformed into a movie carnival with figurines of famous movie characters, merchandising and conversations with celebrities throughout the festival.
Also, a book on veteran filmmaker Nasir Hussain, known for helming hits like Teesri Manzil, Tumsa Nahin Dekha and Yaadon Ki Baarat, will be launched at the festival on October 22. The book titled Music, Masti, Modernity the Cinema of
Nasir Husain is written by Akshay Manwani.

The launch will be followed by a panel discussion about ‘Hussain’s cinema’ and how it has shaped generations of directors. The panel will include Hussain’s nephew and actor Aamir Khan, director Mansoor, writer Manwani and producer Nuzhat Khan.The festival is open from October 20 to 27.