October 22, 2012

Mumbai 2012 Day #3: The Pleasures in Movies

By the end of the third day of a week-long celebration, you start getting a feeling of how good or bad it's going to be in the end. And it's amazing how some things never change at the Mumbai Film Festival every year and keep up the feeling of familiarity for its loyal supporters. One regular feature is the technical problems in screening of the films, something which is saved by the second feature - which is the line-up of some truly amazing movies. Today's day was typical of the Mumbai Fest.

The show of Michael Haneke's 'Amour' (2012), the most eagerly awaited movie of this festival, was cancelled, leaving hundreds of disappointed faces. The delegates rushed to other movies and hence it became difficult to get entry to the other movies of choice. Not having many options, I gambled on 'Captive' (2011), based on the Dos Palmas hostage crisis in Philippines in 2001. Despite being an ordinary film, it had certain moments that left me pleased. One of them was a shot of a baby being born, live, before our eyes. As it appeared out of its mother's birth canal, it did satisfy some of those guilty pleasures that we always want to experience.

The mismanagement continued, as the next film was delayed by 45 minutes. Finally, when it played, the subtitles were not correctly synchronized. Despite that I liked the film - Pasolini's acclaimed 'Accattone' (Italy, 1961). There is something about great films. They might be difficult to watch, but you easily recognize that there is something of true merit in it. As a group of unemployed starving youths try to laugh away their frustration, I made a note of these lines uttered by one of them: "But what's hunger really? A bad habit. It' all in the mind."

The next film was the eternal silent classic by F.W. Murnau - 'Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans' (1928), perhaps the 'greatest' film of this festival going by its historical acclaim. I had watched it for the first time on my laptop a couple of years ago. Recently it was voted by 'Sight and Sound' as the fifth greatest film of all time, and that inspired me to revisit it, especially because it was being screened at Liberty, where the decor of the theater does transport you back in time. And what an amazing experience it was! This film must be the mother of all romantic melodramas. I kept smiling, looking at the chemistry between the lead pair on screen, and enjoyed a love-story after a long, long time.

After 'Sunrise', I felt content - that my day had been nice. I didn't know what was in store for me. And as the wonderful child actor mesmerized the audience with his brilliant performance in the immensely entertaining Dutch drama 'Kauwboy' (2012), the country's official entry for the upcoming Oscars, I wondered at what cinema can achieve. The unfortunate climax left the crowd gasping. As the last scene unfolded, the lady beside me was weeping inconsolably. And I was smiling - thanking cinema in my heart for all those pleasures that it brings with itself, and gives us first-hand taste of experiences that we would not necessarily have otherwise. When movies move, they do that badly. And then we love to laugh and cry!

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