Mumbai Musings: Day 3 - Unadulterated vision of filmmakers unifies communities that yearn for the raw deal
The columnist talks about how the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival has thrown up the sort of raw visuals you could scarcely hope to catch in an Indian cinema hall.
Foremost among the joys of experiencing films at a festival is how you get to sample the unadulterated vision of the makers. Nudity, blood, gore… nothing is too controversial, too upsetting. That’s why news that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry sought to block Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sxxx Durga (originally titled Sexy Durga) from getting projected at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival came as a source of some consternation.
The ministry’s beef with the film had to do with the first word of its original title -- Sexy -- owing to the possibility of ‘religious sentiments’ getting hurt. The director, speaking after the screening of the film at the festival, lamented: “There was a time when I used to point out that words like sexy were getting banned in countries like Iran. It turns out that we’ve now become like them.”
That sole blip aside, the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival has thrown up the sort of raw visuals you could scarcely hope to catch in an Indian cinema hall. In Ana Asensio’s hard-hitting thriller, Most Beautiful Island (screened yesterday), there’s a disturbing scene that has a woman stripping naked and lying down in a coffin. As she proceeds to remove her clothes, it’s intriguing how the camera shows no real urgency to get on with it. And yet, you never get the sense that the filmmaking is sexually exploitative.
This is exactly the sort of scene that our censor board would demand the removal of, even if the film were A-certified. Ana Asensio’s film is all the better for that scene which really helps hit home the reality of how immigrants get dehumanised.
It is to experience filmmaking so raw that people from across the country (and even the world, given how many foreigners are part of the audience) have descended in Mumbai. For the next week, you will catch strangers at coffee shops exchanging their schedules. You’ll hear them discuss Georgian and Indonesian cinema.
I even spotted one group already making plans for next year’s iteration. The festival — which has stocked up on films from directors like Richard Linklater and Darren Aronofsky — has managed to unify communities differentiated by language and religion. And given the general camaraderie on display, it doesn’t seem like anybody’s ‘sentiments’ have been hurt yet.