The opening film of the Mumbai Film Festival was Hansal Mehta’s hard-hitting Aligarh, a biopic on a professor at Aligarh Muslim University who was suspended from his position after a TV crew recorded a sting video of him having sex with a rickshaw puller. A few months later, Professor Siras was found dead in his apartment. Manoj Bajpayee plays the role of Siras and the response after the Indian premiere screening was unanimous – Bajpayee’s performance is a tour de force and will be counted as one of his finest, after Bhiku Mhatre in Satya. “The film deals with a human story about a man isolated by his peers for a choice that should have been his own,” Mehta told AFP news agency. The film is slated for an early 2016 release and Bajpayee is bound to be in the running for many an award for this heart-breaking and haunting performance as the lonely 64-year-old professor who finds solace in Lata Mangeshkar’s songs.
At the masterclass with Kabir Khan, the audience was enthralled by stories of the writer-director’s interactions with Salman Khan. It is well documented that the two Khans did not see eye-to-eye during the making of Ek Tha Tiger and yet they managed to make Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which became the second highest grossing Indian film worldwide. Kabir said it was out of their differences that they found mutual respect and a friendship. This resulted in a faith and trust that brought out one of Salman’s most measured performances in film in years. “Imagine telling Salman that in the climax you will be limping and hardly saying a word. But Salman believed in the story and the message enough to take it seriously,” recounted Kabir.
Ticket to Goa
From one festival to the next: the 46th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be inaugurated later this month in Goa. Among the highlights are the tributes and this year the spotlight shall be on those who passed away since the last IFFI – eminent personalities including Dadasaheb Phalke Award winners director K Balachander and producer D Ramanaidu, music composers Ravindra Jain and Aadesh Shrivastava and popular actors Deven Verma, Manorama and Indra Bania, among others. A special retrospective has also been programmed of the films of this year’s Dadasaheb Phalke Award recipient Shashi Kapoor. The package of eight films will include Junoon (1978), New Delhi Times (1986), Utsav (1984), Kalyug (1981), Deewar (1975) and Shakespearwallah (1965).
Reaching the stars
This last week Mumbai was buzzing with its homegrown film festival, MAMI. Right from the glitzy opening ceremony at the iconic Gateway of India to the glamorous party at the most famous private residence in India, Bollywood was energised by an event that took over the city. Kangana Ranaut, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sidharth Malhotra, Katrina Kaif and Vidya Balan were just some of the A-listers who were seen at both the opening day events. Alongside were indie favourites like Nagesh Kukunoor, Chaitanya Tamhane, and Kalki Koechlin. But it was the Movie Mela, styled on the lines of Comic-Con, which really charged up the atmosphere. A movie studio was converted to be all things cinema with master classes, conversations, photo booths and stalls selling memorabilia. The Mr India team reunion was one of the sessions that met with the warmest reception. While director Shekhar Kapur was not present, Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, Satish Kaushik, Javed Akhtar and former child actors Aftab Shivdasani, Ahmed Khan, Huzaan Khodaiji, Karan Nath contributed to the nostalgic and warm tribute. The films were still the main stars of the Festival, with local movies receiving as thunderous an applause as the international ones.