October 22, 2016

Mumbai 2016, Day 1: Desperate Times

These are desperate times for the movie-buffs in the city. Our favourite film festival has started. The crowd is larger than ever and despite movies playing in eleven screens in Andheri, there is no respite. Some errors in scheduling, the ever-crashing booking website, and the unending confusion about the availability of seats has left the delegates exasperated. But they are not alone.

Lung and Chin are desperate too. Their relationship is going through a rough phase, as are their professional lives. Discontentment and distractions surround them and they are struggling to fight them out until they have each other for company. (Edward Yang's 'Taipei Story' - Taiwan/1985)

Ryota is desperate. His father has passed away and he remains a son who is yet to bloom and show his talents. A struggling author, he is somehow trying to provide monthly alimony to his ex-wife for some moments of togetherness with his son. And a storm is approaching. (Hirokazu Koreeda's 'After the Storm' - Japan/2016)

Lao Shi is desperate. A good-hearted taxi driver, he is forced to pay for the young man whom he hit for no fault of his and whom everyone else seems to have disowned for good. Shi's wife does not understand him. The authorities don't help. And the man in the hospital sleeps peacefully in coma. Why doesn't he die, for god's sake? (Johnny Ma's 'Old Stone' - Canada-China/2016. The film won Best Canadian Debut at Toronto)

Gana is desperate. As a nurse she has been taking advantage of the sick elderly she visits, trafficking their IDs to the bad guys. One accident and fear and guilt creeps in. Gana will have to fight everything around her in a world that God definitely seems to have abandoned. (Ralitza Petrova's 'Godless' - Bulgaria/2016. The film won over Locarno. Golden Leopard. Best Director. Actress. And Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The director, Petrova, was present at the screening here and interacted with the audience afterwards.)

And Shideh is desperate as well. Iraq has launched missile attacks on Tehran and other Iranian cities. While people flee the city, she and her young daughter are forced to face demons Shideh never thought existed, leading to a horror no one can ever forget. (Babak Anvari's Persian language film 'Under the Shadow' - UK/2016. This is UK's Oscar entry this year.)

The fight continues. Despite sitting in front of the computer at 7.45, it is virtually impossible to book tickets when the window opens at eight. Or does it really open at eight? Because often we cannot book until it is half past eight. And then when we try, most good shows are already sold out. Is there any hope? Or our Mumbai Film Festival will continue with these glaring errors? After all, we love it so much anyway!

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